Doctor of psychiatry Peter Ventre examines the play preferences of children with autism spectrum disorder and how these preferences can be used to help autistic children and their parents cope with the condition.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, September 18, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ — As a psychiatric professional with his own clinic, Dr. Peter Ventre treats patients of all ages with a wide variety of mental conditions. This commonly includes many young children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism spectrum disorder is present in little over one percent of all children born in the United States. The condition affects the development of the brain, usually restricting the ability of the child to adapt to new situations and modify their behavior according to social contexts. As such, children diagnosed with ASD typically have a more difficult time in social situations, even with other children their own age. Parents of children with ASD, meanwhile, face many more challenges than parents of children without the condition.
Luckily, a recent news report from Medical Daily discusses how daily life might be made easier for both these children and their parents through a fairly simple solution. That solution is sensory stimulation through active play.
“Play is essential for all children to learn a wide range of skills which are incredibly important to their development,” explains Dr. Peter Ventre. “Studies have been showing that young children and children with autism spectrum disorders benefit when integrated into play groups together. Doing so improves the quality of play skills in children with ASD.”
The article mentions one such study, which was conducted at the “Au-some Evening” at the Explore and More Museum in Buffalo, New York. The evening in question was a monthly event that was designed to engage autistic children through play.
During the event, researchers noticed that children diagnosed with ASD preferred to partake in playtime activities that provided strong sensory feedback, particularly those including repetitive motion and an observable cause-and-effect results by the children. These activities included children dropping balls off of stairs, pouring rice through their fingers, and spinning windmills.
According to the researchers, children with ASD crave constant kinetic motion, either in themselves or in the world around them. As such, simply watching a windmill spin or a ball drop was enough to engage them during playtime and satisfy their need for sensory stimuli.
The applications of these findings can prove beneficial to both children with ASD and their parents. Since autistic children are not always able to clearly communicate what they want, this knowledge should enable parents to better engage their children proactively. It also allows autistic children to develop a larger degree of independence during playtime, remarks Dr. Peter Ventre, which in turn allows parents more freedom to do things like care for their other children, make dinner, or simply relax.