Play Therapy Techniques for Kids with Autism


Kids with autism spectrum disorder can greatly benefit from the several treatment techniques that are now available for them. One of these techniques that are most often seen in any autism clinic is play therapy.


When parents or therapists apply play-based techniques on kids with autism, kids often show improvement in their sensory, motor and communication skills. They show an increased interest in playing with others and are also able to better relay their wants and needs in more sensible ways.


Indeed, play has been proven to be a great tool for helping kids (and adults) with autism. When they are appropriately utilized, they can discover their ability to build relationships with their parents, family members, therapists, and peers. Parents, too, can play an active role and can be more patient and understand their children better.


Here are some of the most commonly utilized play therapy techniques that can help your children improve on their skills and better cope with their disabilities.


Play Therapy Techniques




Floor Time

Developed by Greenspan and colleagues, floor time is usually done with the participation of the children’s parents with the goal of strengthening parent-child connection. Most of the sessions are done on the floor, as the name implies. There are six phases that occur during this technique: self-calming, relationship building, two-way communication, creating complex gestures, creation of ideas, and creating the ideas based on reality.


Greenspan believed that children with autism had social and communication abnormalities were because of sensory dysfunction. This is why he formulated this technique, which incorporated activities, and methods encourage them to use their senses more frequently. It starts with the child leading the play and then she is joined by her parents and then her therapist, all activities done on the floor. Eventually, the child is given more difficult toys and tasks that will challenge her skills. Floortime was found to be very efficient in about 58% of children who participated in the regular sessions.


P.L.A.Y. Project


The Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters Project is based Greenspan’s DIR Floor Time, but only that it is more focused on the one-on-one involvement of parents and their partnership with autism specialists. This technique follows the principles and recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences, where treatment of autistic children would include:


  • Early diagnosis and treatment
  • Maintaining interesting and engaging sessions in all its phases
  • Individualized or one-on-one play sessions with therapist/playmates and the autistic child
  • Treatment plan should be performed weekly, 25 hours per week




Non-Directive Play Study


Also known as child-centered play therapy, this technique is based on the principle of trust in the capacity of the child to create his ways and means of learning by playing. She is encouraged to express her emotions through the use of toys. Even children with severe forms of autism have shown tremendous positive results through the non-directive play technique.


The method begins with the child allowed to explore the playroom and use the toys available in the room to communicate her feelings and thoughts to the therapist. It continues and ends with the child and therapist engaging in the same fun session that is encouraging and effective.




Final Thoughts


The different types of play therapy techniques have become an effective means for children and parents to deal with the daily challenges that come with autism. Family therapy may also help cope with these challenges, and with the benefits of technology and the internet… this type of therapy can be provided online from a variety of vendors.


Engaging in play therapy is a commitment for both parents and children with autism. It doesn’t take one or two sessions to see the improvement, especially since the process needs the interaction of the child, the parents, and the therapist.