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mom77
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28 Dec 2011, 2:13 am

Doing an evaluation for my 16yr old was very eye opening

I learned that I have many many aspie traits, which seem to run in my family. I will not do an evaluation for myself only because I can't afford it.

Something got me wondering----the psychologist evaluating my daughter asked if she engaged in imaginative play as a child. I had no idea. I honestly didn't remember, presumably because it wasn't something significant for me. I never played with dolls as a child. The most I would do is sew clothing for my Barbie. I enjoyed building toys and puzzles much more. I know that they've owned dolls and dollhouses. No idea if they actually used it for imaginative play. Was never something I payed attention to. I do know that my now 10 year old only asked for a doll once, and, like her mom, wanted it only in order to create clothing for her.

So, my question is this: Being that I never sat down in "imaginative play" with my kids, would that alone cause them to not have an interest?

Gosh, I feel like such a horrible parent right now! I gave them lots of attention through and did a lot of art, music, reading, puzzles---things I found interesting--but I don't remember having a tea party with my daughters (4 of them!)

Nature vs Nurture??



KakashiYay
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28 Dec 2011, 5:56 am

Typically developing children pick up skills naturally- hugging, waving, pointing, shrugging, facial expressions, playing, asking for help, seeking comfort, sharing emotions and experiences- while spectrum kids often do need to be taught these kind of skills.

Our 2-yr-old has poor pretend play, and a month ago, I thought, well, maybe it's just because we haven't done a lot of pretend play with her, as her play style is based more in the literal and sensory areas. We taught her how to play tea party, but she doesn't particularly enjoy it, nor does she initiate it. Likewise, we thought maybe she doesn't hug us as she'd never been taught. At 22 months, we taught her to hug. Like pretend play, she doesn't like to, and won't initiate hugs, but at least she knows *how.*

So, for your question, your kids likely lack the basis for these skills (nature) and need to be taught how (nurture.) You didn't *make* them behave in an autistic way by not teaching these skills, though- it's not your fault. However, you can start building the skills now, though the odds are good that your kids are fine without strong pretend play, especially if at least one of them is a teen already.


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28 Dec 2011, 6:34 am

In my family, I'm the only one formally diagnosed, but it's quite clear that my mother, brother and half sister are also on the spectrum to varying degrees. The really illuminating one is my half sister, who is ten years younger than me and radically different in temperament and personality to my brother and I, despite very similar upbringings and environment. What was particularly startling to my mother and the rest of us was that my sister is in many ways the reincarnation of our maternal grandmother, a very bitter and manipulative person, despite almost no contact with her growing up. We all had always thought that my grandmother's disposition was due to substance abuse and difficult circumstances during the Depression years, but in light of my sister's personality we had to conclude that she was actually born that way and circumstance had little to do with it.

What I'm getting at here is that it's highly unlikely that not showing your daughter "imaginative play" had anything to do with her not having an interest in it, it probably was just not in either of your natures to play that way, and there's nothing wrong with that. I know I always played with toys how I wanted to play with them, I didn't care what the intended purpose was and no amount of telling me I was playing with something "wrong" changed how I played. It actually foreshadowed quite a bit of my adult development, my professional life in a number of mechanical trades has been marked by unusual fixes and unconventional thinking that's allowed me to repair or improve machinery and tools in ways others simply don't see.

So, I wouldn't worry too much about it, and as you've caught the AS relatively early (I didn't get diagnosed until my mid 20's), there's plenty of time to work on any deficient social areas. At least in my case, simply knowing where I was weak and why made all the difference in the world as I was able to quit blaming myself for interpersonal failings and actually take constructive action with my social skills.


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Wreck-Gar
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28 Dec 2011, 9:08 am

The imaginative play thing is something kids will do spontaneously. They don't pick it up from parents.



zette
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28 Dec 2011, 11:42 am

When DS, who has AS, was 2.5 he had an evaluation and I was asked, "What are his favorite toys?" I felt like such a bad mother because I couldn't think of anything in particular that he liked to play with. I thought that because he would pretend objects were a telephone that his imaginative play was fine. Most of his toys held only passing interest for him. He did like a garbage truck and a dump truck when he was 3, and while on the surface he seemed to play with them appropriately (pick up the garbage and take it to the dump), if you watched carefully he would repeat an exact 20-step sequence over and over.

Now I have 2 yo twin girls, and the difference in imaginitive play is striking. One girl in particular carries Curious George everywhere, and tells me he's eating dinner, sleeping, or needs his diaper changed. Completely spontaneous, I never pretended George was doing any of those things. The other will lay dolls down and put "blankets" over them.

Although I'm NT, my mother reports that I rarely played with dolls or dress up clothes. As far as I remember, as soon as I could read I much preferred books to toys (and before I could read my favorite was books recorded on records). The only interesting thing about Barbie was the elevator in her townhouse. I bought some Imaginex sets to encourage imaginitive play in DS, and found that I absolutely hate trying to pretend that the figures talk.

So I'd say it's definitely nature!



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28 Dec 2011, 1:39 pm

Thanks for starting this. The whole "imaginative play" thing has me confused. KB plays with toys, but not in any recognizable way. Dolls aren't dolls. Stuffed animals aren't necessarily love objects. She's more apt to find ways to fasten them all together to form a megazord from Power Rangers. She does have a rich inner world that shines through when she finds someone on her level. I also worried because I don't get into the imaginative kid play.


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28 Dec 2011, 2:57 pm

I think the "imaginative play" part of the diagnosis is confusing to everyone, including diagnosticians. My son loves imaginative play, but does it in such a scripted and rigid manner that it isn't at all NT. I've heard of other kids having other very Aspie ways of playing imaginatively.

I think the key is that imaginative play is often both social and flexible: two areas where Aspies may have a glaring deficit.



mom77
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28 Dec 2011, 3:07 pm

I started wondering about myself when I didn't quite grasp what he meant by imaginative play. I think he meant that dolls are used as characters with relationships. I am ashamed to admit that I remember thinking even as a child that kids who "play house" are not as intelligent as I-who was busy designing the house. I guess it worked out for the best, I work as an architect.

(afterwards I asked my daughter who said, nah, don't think I ever did that)



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28 Dec 2011, 3:11 pm

In the diagnostic process, I think they are also looking to see if a child can integrate into the evaluator's imaginative play. For instance, when my daughter was evaluated, they were to have a birthday party and the evaluator was pretending some items were for the birthday party but my daughter couldn't (or wouldn't) pretend that a spinning top was a plate. So, each time the evaluator would "suggest" an item was something my daughter would just ask "why"? So, there was some impairment in my daughter's ability to join into someone else's imaginative play. BUT-her own imaginative play is VERY detailed. She had imaginary friends she carried on long conversations with!

I think kids with AS can have a very rich imaginative play world-but it isn't a joint world that they play in with others. So I don't find it unusual for you to not recall playing with your child in imaginary play.



mom77
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28 Dec 2011, 3:16 pm

I think that even if my kids did engage in "imaginative play", I wouldn't have remembered because as a probable aspie I don't think I would have payed attention to this as much as other mothers might. I seriously felt like I had amnesia.



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31 Dec 2011, 2:40 am

Don't let it make you feel badly, seriously. We had issues early on to where the nurse at the pediatricians office made a very big deal about how I should encourage(force) pretend play with/on my son. He had some symbolic play but took to pretend play very late and in his own unique way. Despite my desperate effort,s he was interested when he was ready. Until then, he would look at me like I was not very bright when I would encourage him to do things that were not real, and would call me out on it. After awhile, I would back off, regroup and try something else. Eventually, I took out a book about emotions (another thing I knew we needed to work on) with an angry cat and he got on all fours (didn't meow or anything, though) to pretend to be a cat. After that, it was occasional but he would do some infrequent pretend play.

He does a lot of it now, (very very very late, and very unusual), but he does it. I don't know if it is "necessary," And I don't think anything I did helped and the whole thing confuses me. I think he did it when he was ready. I don't know if it helps with anything. I think some of the medical professionals see the autistic checklist items as something you can push through to prevent, and somehow if you don't have to check the boxes you can prevent autism. I think that is a naive way to look at it. The checklist items exist because they correlate not because they cause anything.

I don't think I ever did it myself. My mother wouldn't have noticed it, and wouldn't have worried about it. Back in the antediluvian time of my youth, parents didn't micromanage play. I am not officially diagnosed (a professional at my son's last school basically unofficially diagnosed me) as it is too expensive and I can't justify spending the money when I won't have any more self awareness than I do now. My son has way more pretend play than I ever had and he has a severe diagnosis and is much more effected than I ever was. Take that for what it is worth.



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31 Dec 2011, 5:57 am

zette wrote:
When DS, who has AS, was 2.5 he had an evaluation and I was asked, "What are his favorite toys?" I felt like such a bad mother because I couldn't think of anything in particular that he liked to play with.


When we got asked this about our son we said "books."

When I myself was a kid, I was more into COLLECTING toys than actually playing with them. Once in a while I'd have a battle with Star Wars or Transformers but I'd much prefer just standing them up in rows and organizing them. I even used to take pictures of it...I wonder if this counts as the "lining things up" ASD kids are so famous for...



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31 Dec 2011, 2:09 pm

momsparky wrote:
I think the "imaginative play" part of the diagnosis is confusing to everyone, including diagnosticians. My son loves imaginative play, but does it in such a scripted and rigid manner that it isn't at all NT. I've heard of other kids having other very Aspie ways of playing imaginatively.

I think the key is that imaginative play is often both social and flexible: two areas where Aspies may have a glaring deficit.


This describes my 6 year old aspie son! He's got a future as an actor I think because he really gets into becoming characters, but very scripted and rigid, if a director wanted him to improvise there'd be trouble. He has already been in a play in which he'd memorized everyone's lines and if they were one word off he'd let them know it, he was 5 at the time.

So it's an 'off' type of imagination play, so I don't know if it's imagination play or just trying to use his lego figures to work through human relation and interactions. But he's different then a lot of Aspies as he doesn't want to build the lego's, want's me to build it so he can play with the figures and the castle or whatever it is as the backdrop, but he's very scripted and does the same thing over and over and asks often "is that right?"


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31 Dec 2011, 2:12 pm

I did a lot of imaginative play as a child, but I couldn't do it at all with other kids. Only alone. Even when my kids were little, I wasn't very good at imaginative play with them. I was more along the lines with them of "no, I don't wanna play dolls, lets make clay turtles instead. We can go get paints for them"

Most of my imaginative play was done inside my head. WIthout me moving toys around all. You wouldn't know that I was imagining anything by looking at me, but I was. He may very well being having lots more imaginative play than you think, he just may not be showing it like other kids. Or admitting it. I certainly never admitted mine.


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31 Dec 2011, 2:17 pm

seekingtruth wrote:
momsparky wrote:
I think the "imaginative play" part of the diagnosis is confusing to everyone, including diagnosticians. My son loves imaginative play, but does it in such a scripted and rigid manner that it isn't at all NT. I've heard of other kids having other very Aspie ways of playing imaginatively.

I think the key is that imaginative play is often both social and flexible: two areas where Aspies may have a glaring deficit.


This describes my 6 year old aspie son! He's got a future as an actor I think because he really gets into becoming characters, but very scripted and rigid, if a director wanted him to improvise there'd be trouble. He has already been in a play in which he'd memorized everyone's lines and if they were one word off he'd let them know it, he was 5 at the time.

So it's an 'off' type of imagination play, so I don't know if it's imagination play or just trying to use his lego figures to work through human relation and interactions. But he's different then a lot of Aspies as he doesn't want to build the lego's, want's me to build it so he can play with the figures and the castle or whatever it is as the backdrop, but he's very scripted and does the same thing over and over and asks often "is that right?"


LOL, yes this is exactly right. It was funnier when he got people to do it: until about 3rd grade when everybody wised up, he persistently directed all the imaginative play on the playground. I think a lot of the kids were grateful to be told what to do (until they got too old for it.) Someday, I think this can be turned into a skill, he just needs to learn that people are not legos.

FWIW, my husband and I both had careers as actors and directors once upon a time. I think that many, many famous actors (think of all the tabloids that exploit social gaffes) are probably on the spectrum...scripting comes naturally to many of us.



seekingtruth
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31 Dec 2011, 3:12 pm

momsparky wrote:
seekingtruth wrote:
momsparky wrote:
I think the "imaginative play" part of the diagnosis is confusing to everyone, including diagnosticians. My son loves imaginative play, but does it in such a scripted and rigid manner that it isn't at all NT. I've heard of other kids having other very Aspie ways of playing imaginatively.

I think the key is that imaginative play is often both social and flexible: two areas where Aspies may have a glaring deficit.


This describes my 6 year old aspie son! He's got a future as an actor I think because he really gets into becoming characters, but very scripted and rigid, if a director wanted him to improvise there'd be trouble. He has already been in a play in which he'd memorized everyone's lines and if they were one word off he'd let them know it, he was 5 at the time.

So it's an 'off' type of imagination play, so I don't know if it's imagination play or just trying to use his lego figures to work through human relation and interactions. But he's different then a lot of Aspies as he doesn't want to build the lego's, want's me to build it so he can play with the figures and the castle or whatever it is as the backdrop, but he's very scripted and does the same thing over and over and asks often "is that right?"


LOL, yes this is exactly right. It was funnier when he got people to do it: until about 3rd grade when everybody wised up, he persistently directed all the imaginative play on the playground. I think a lot of the kids were grateful to be told what to do (until they got too old for it.) Someday, I think this can be turned into a skill, he just needs to learn that people are not legos.

FWIW, my husband and I both had careers as actors and directors once upon a time. I think that many, many famous actors (think of all the tabloids that exploit social gaffes) are probably on the spectrum...scripting comes naturally to many of us.


So funny! So right on! I've often thought I would have really enjoyed acting but my school never offered it and by the time I was on my own to persue it I got mixed up with my abusive 1st husband who didn't let me leave the house. so opportunity was lost for me, but I get why it comforts my son.

I thrived in speech classes, loved it because I had control of the room and everything was pre-planned what I'd be saying, absolutely no shyness and felt on top of the world. But a spontanious conversation was sometimes so difficult.

A friend of mine watched an interview with Will Smith and she called me up all excited telling me he talked about how he has anxiety issues and acting calms that for him, which is what I'd been telling her about my son.

He's also super funny, so comedian could be a possiblilty too. No shyness or fear if he know's what's going to happen. But put him in a classroom where he's going to be learning something new and he meltsdown in terror.

Question I have about this however, is it indulgence to steer him in the acting world? Will it instill the need for everything to be scripted for him and be a disservice for him in learning to relate to the world? Or is it better to let him go for it since it calms him and that calming may bring him self confidence to better handle other situations?

This is what I've been in heavy contemplation for quite awhile now, any ideas would be greatly appreciated.


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Looks like I'm most likely and Aspie myself, must be why I can understand my beautiful Aspie son so well.
Your Aspie score: 168 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 39 of 200
You are very likely an Aspie