Toys, like play itself, serve multiple purposes for children. They provide entertainment while fulfilling an educational role. Toys enhance cognitive behaviour and stimulate creativity. They aid in the development of physical and emotional skills which are necessary in later life. Whether playing with an adult or with another child, toys provide lessons in sharing and cooperation. They can help boost an individual’s self-esteem by being able to do something that they couldn’t do before. Toys also allow children to experiment with roles and situations through pretend play. For individuals with developmental delays and complex learning needs, toys and play are even more important.
Why Use Social-Emotional Toys?
Social-emotional toys, otherwise known as emotional development toys, are recommended for children of all ages. That’s because they work to develop the emotional skills of the child using them, tapping into themes of care and consideration that we as adults know is so important.
By introducing toys such as dolls with emotional faces and doctor’s kits to toddlers and older children, skills like reading emotions and understanding how to care for somebody can start to be learned.
Social-Emotional Toys For Children With Autism
Children with autism may struggle to identify the emotions portrayed on dolls to a greater extent than others of the same age, and can often require greater teaching when it comes to developing social-emotional skills.
However, this doesn’t mean that they cannot benefit from the use of toys designed to develop these skills. In fact, it may be worthwhile to ensure that these toys are added to your child’s collection.
Some children with autism may struggle to connect socially with others, requiring a helping hand to understand the world around them to a greater extent. And play is a great way to do this!
For this, social-emotional toys can be used to help children practise social skills in role-play scenarios, developing their understanding of the conversations they are likely to have.
Similarly, visual supports such as books and dolls are a great way of illustrating to a child what different facial expressions and conversations might look like. This can help prepare your child and supports their understanding in an approachable, fun and engaging manner.
Helping Your Child
There are many ways that you can help your child to develop skills they may struggle with, and the toys that they play with is just one aspect of this. Practice play, use social stories and utilise communication and engagement strategies, to help your child develop.
If you’d like to discuss how Bright Futures can support your child, our team are always on hand to help, so contact us today.