Many parents and early childhood educators take imaginative play for granted. Yet, when you have parented a child in the spectrum, it’s fairly common that your child will struggle with the abstract and feels safer with the concrete. Not every kid on the spectrum struggles with this, but when my oldest was young, imaginative play just wasn’t on the menu.
I bought my oldest all the things I could to encourage imaginative play. I got play silks and dolls and a even constructed a homemade wooden play kitchen. And while he did engage in a little imaginative play here and there, it was still very concrete, and it just didn’t come naturally.
When his sister was 2 and entering that phase of imaginative play, he was 7. She brought him in with her. Watching her turn an ordinary block into a bed or car amazed him and amazed me. Watching him imagine with her brought me to my knees.
I thought with the youngest, seeing him discover imaginative play would be old hat. But when he plays, I still have so many feelings. I never want to interrupt him when he’s in flow with his play. Even though it’s a daily occurrence with him, it’s so deep and complex and I’m still filled with gratitude and awe.