Building interpersonal skills for your child with ASD, through summer water play.

July 2021
Building interpersonal skills for your child with ASD, through summer water play.

Lori Sova, SLP

As the school year comes to an end and the excitement of summer begins to heat up, many parents are left wondering how they can continue to bolster their child’s growth during this period of relaxation and fun. While summer vacations, playdates, and lounging around the house stir feelings of nostalgic bliss they may also carry unexpected apprehension for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder.

While interpersonal skills don’t come naturally to everyone, they can be encouraged with some simple steps and a little imagination.

There is comfort in the school year’s structure and routines. It is calming to know that your child’s special needs are being met by a team of professionals. In the school setting there’s a lot of emphasis on teaching children with ASD how to communicate effectively to participate in the social world. Communication is the key to developing relationships and having needs met. While these interpersonal skills don’t come naturally to everyone, they can be taught with some simple steps and a little imagination.

Blue Balloon ABA, Speech- Language Pathologist, Lori Sova has some suggestions for strengthening communication by establishing routines during typical summer fun activities like waterplay. Humans naturally gravitate to water so it makes sense that our play should as well, especially during the hottest months of the year.

What’s even better than playing in some cool water on a hot summer day, you ask?!

Turning fun water play into a social communication learning opportunity.

 

Encourage Your Child to Discover How They Like To Play

  1. Don’t feel confined to one type of water activity:
    • Try the pool, the bathtub, the sink, a container, anywhere that splashing in the water can take place! Whatever excites your child is the right place for water fun.

     

  2. Get creative!
    • Gather some objects and toys from around the house that can be used to create movement and action.
    • Bowls, cups, water toys, sponges, tubes, small pool animals, etc.

     

  3. Inspire creativity and imagination!
    • Model how the toys can interact with one another while commenting about what you are doing simultaneously. This will help your child connect the words for the action and the object along with forming an understanding of how they can interact with one another.
    • “I am pouring water over the frog, the frog is all clean” or “The frog is splashing you!”

     

  4. Expand language:
    • Use the objects that are available to show different colors, shapes, sizes, You can ask your child to “get the yellow ____.”; “let’s use the big sponge”, and etc..
    • Model “look the sponge is red”; “look the sponge is a circle”; etc..
    • This can help your child to understand receptive language, otherwise known as the understanding of language.

    Demonstrate For Your Child, and Let Them Demonstrate For You

     

  5. Build foundational skills for social communication:
    Joint/ Shared Attention

      • Use the objects that are available to show different colors, shapes, sizes, You can ask your child to “get the yellow ____.”; “let’s use the big sponge”, and etc..
      • Model “look the sponge is red”; “look the sponge is a circle”; etc..
      • This can help your child to understand receptive language, otherwise known as the understanding of language.

     

    Imitation

      • Make a connection! If your child makes a noise, copy it! If they clap hands, clap with them!
      • Have two of each item so that you can each imitate each other.
      • Remember the goal of imitation is to build a foundation that further communication and social skills can be built on.

     

    Follow Directions

    • Ask your child to copy your actions such as splashing, touching a body part, making an object move by saying “do this”, “copy me”, “do what I do” and then complete an action.
    • Practice taking turns.


    Children Learn More When They Are Engaged; Make it Fun!

     

  6. Have fun!
    • When children are having fun they are more engaged which in turn increases learning
    • Social play is the foundation for language development

There’s No Perfect Way To Play

The most important thing to remember is that water play, learning, and summer is fun; don’t let the idea of perfection hold you back. Exploration and play are synonymous with development and the key to all social skills is understanding how to connect words with actions and objects. So, dive in and make this summer’s learning a splash!