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  • Writer's pictureSATC Team

Embracing Neurodiversity and Autism: How ABA Therapy Nurtures Play Skills in Every Child

Play is the universal language of childhood, a fundamental aspect of human development that fosters social, emotional, and cognitive growth.


For children with neurodivergent conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), play skills can sometimes be challenging to acquire naturally. ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy, grounded in neurodiversity-affirming principles, has emerged as an effective intervention to teach play skills to every child, regardless of their unique neurological makeup.


In this article, we will explore how ABA therapy cultivates play skills, empowering children to connect with others, express themselves, and explore their world through the joy of play.


Find out more about our ABA services and how we can best help your child.


Individualised Approach


ABA therapy adopts a highly individualised approach, recognising that each child's neurology and learning styles are unique. The first step in teaching play skills through ABA is to conduct comprehensive assessments to identify the child's strengths, interests, and challenges. With this knowledge, our board-certified behaviour analyst tailor intervention plans specifically to cater to the child's needs, ensuring that the play activities are engaging and meaningful to the child.


Play as a Learning Tool


In neurodiversity-affirming ABA therapy sessions, play is not just a recreational activity; it becomes a powerful tool for learning and skill development. ABA therapists utilise play activities to target specific social, communication, and cognitive goals. For example, they may use structured play scenarios to teach turn-taking, sharing, or appropriate ways to request help or express preferences. Through guided play experiences, children learn essential new skills that enable them to interact with peers and form meaningful relationships.


Natural Environment Teaching (NET)


ABA therapy recognises the importance of generalisation, ensuring that skills learned in one context can be applied in various settings. An ABA therapist often uses Natural Environment Teaching (NET) to teach play skills. NET involves incorporating play-based learning opportunities into the child's everyday environment, such as at home, school, or community settings. By practising play skills in real-life scenarios, children can more effectively transfer and apply these skills in different social contexts.


Social Skills Training


Play can also be a social activity that requires the ability to initiate interactions, respond appropriately, and navigate social cues. Our ABA program dedicates significant attention to teaching social skills within the context of play. Through role-playing, video modelling, and peer interactions, children are able to train their social “muscles”, which is essential for successful play experiences with peers.


Reducing Barriers


ABA therapy also addresses any barriers that may hinder a child's play engagement. For some neurodivergent children, sensory sensitivities or challenging behaviours may limit their willingness to explore new play experiences. ABA therapists work collaboratively with the child and family to create a comfortable and supportive play environment, teach communicative behaviours to indicate their preferences or needs and can work to gradually reduce barriers to foster a sense of security that encourages play exploration and positive behaviours.


Play as a Catalyst for Communication


For children who are still learning to communicate, play can serve as a powerful catalyst for communication. ABA therapists may use play activities to promote alternative forms of communication, such as using visual supports, gestures, or augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. By creating a communication-rich play environment, children can express their thoughts, needs, and desires more effectively.


Helping Children Find Their Joy Through Play


ABA therapy can offer a transformative journey for children to develop play skills and engage joyfully with their world. By embracing the uniqueness of each child's neurology, ABA therapists craft personalised intervention plans that cater to the child's specific needs and interests.



Through play-based learning, social skills training, positive reinforcement, and a focus on generalisation in the real world, ABA therapy creates a nurturing and supportive environment where every child can flourish and experience the joy of play.



Ultimately, the goal is not just to teach play skills, but to unlock the potential of every child, fostering growth, and empowering them to connect with others and thrive in their own unique way.



At Scarlett SATC, our ABA therapy sessions aim to improve your child's quality of life and help them find their joy.



Contact us to see how we can make a positive difference in your child's life. 

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