8. Self Engagement


This is based on the guidance from our son’s Speech Language Pathologist on teaching INDEPENDENT PLAY. In addition we have applied some techniques having observed our child based on our own judgement.

We would like to elaborate on our way of choosing the principles of self engagement for him. It has always been on

  1. What he enjoys most – It was obvious that he was most likely to spend time with his likes(sensory material like play dough, sand, indoor swings, water tub, jumping on trampoline etc). It may need some supervision or teaching how to play with dough meaningfully or independent swinging
  2. Our child learns more as he is exposed to different learning skills and environment. The probability has worked out that among what we have been teaching him, few things of his interest have come in front of us which neither he nor we knew would interest him. As he was not exposed earlier to these, we did not gauge of these could be his areas of interest. So we firmly believe in exposure to most skills. Since play does not come to children on the spectrum automatically, teaching play is important. Among the toys he learns to play with there are always some which can be easily identified as his favorites. Also, we have observed that his play age is behind his developmental age so at the age of 7 right now he is more interested in toys which attract children 3 years younger to him and some toys/games are nearly age appropriate.
  3. There were skills he did not enjoy in the beginning (like coloring, swimming, skating) but as he learnt and gained confidence he took more liking to them. This we would attribute to his competitive nature and need for self achievement.

He, himself wants to be engaged as he gets bored easily. Also, he himself likes to explore (which is a result of his existing nature and exposure to learning of multiple skills/environment/therapies). So eventually this process started registering in his brain that there are ways of self engagement.


We allocated 30 minutes (15 minutes twice daily). He was given 2 to 5 simple toys (which he knew how to play). He had to complete them on his own with only verbal instruction to complete it (not how to play). I would sit right next to him. As child starts mastering independent completion of the play with mother next to him then next step is to sit next to child but mother is engaged in some activity like reading, stitching (what she can do next to the child). Mother’s focus is completely on the child without his knowledge and child thinks mother is busy in her work. As the child starts mastering this step too then eventually mother to move out of the room and leave the child for independent play for short spurts of time.

Based on this concept we took it to self engagement, where as child learns skills and shows interest these can be developed into self engagement on similar lines of independent play for other skills.

Indoor activities  – playing with puzzles, toys, riding small cycle inside the house, seeing pictures in books, playing with sensory input material like play dough, kinetic sand, with I pad, musical toys, coloring, indoor swing. Sometimes he indulges in Stimming too (which we let him do periodically respecting his sensory needs). He himself is realizing that self stimulation is not done by all and tries to restrict him in public places.

We try not to make any activity an excessive habit and keep a check, lest that becomes an obsession so that we do not have to apply behavior modification to reduce it.

Our observation – the more he learns meaningful engagement the more his need for self stimulation goes down.


Copyright © 2016 Barnana Chakraborti

Life of a special one