In this module we will look more closelyat child development and play, and the relationship between the two. Child development refers to all the physical, cognitiveand social growth and skills children acquire from infancy to adulthood.

These skills allow children, and later adults, to engage effectively and meaningfully in the world around them. One of the key ways young children learn these skills is through play. Even when it looks like they are ‘ just playing’ children’s brains and bodies are hard at work putting together knowledge and experiences they gather from the world around them. They are making meaningful connections, strengthening their minds and bodies, processing language and negotiating social relationships.

The relationship between development and play presents some specific challenges for children with ASD or ASD-like traits. Often, the developmental of children with ASD looks a little different from that of their neurotypical peers.

They may not meet some of the milestones within each of the domains of development, or they may be a little delayed. They may have strong skills in some developmental domains, but struggle in others. This often different developmental pathway means those with ASD or ASD-like traits often need additional support to reach their developmental goals.

In addition, owing to trait difficulties with communication and social interaction many children with ASD or ASD-like struggle to engage and participate in play.  As a result, many of these children miss out on vital learning and developmental opportunities. PlayConnect Playgroups provide a unique environment targeted at increasing the play and learning opportunities of children with ASD and ASD-like traits. Within this space, children’s learning can be stimulated and supported, with the participation and added support of parents and carers through a facilitated and structured play program.

This guide will explore the domains of development and consider some of the c hallenges those with ASD or ASD-like traits may experience within these domains. We will spend some time looking at play, types of play, and providing some ideas and strategies to support you in your role as a PlayConnect Facilitator.

Finally, we will provide you with some resources, some recipes, and songs, to use within your PlayConnect program.