Here’s a helpful guide to whether or not your child is playing with a toy “right”.
1 – Are they causing harm to themselves or others?
2 – Is the toy being shattered into a million harmful pieces?
If the answer is “no” to both of the above questions and the child in question (or children, sometimes this is a group effort) is having fun… Congratulations, your child is playing with their toy “right”!
When my son was diagnosed a year-ish ago, this was a subject that kind of drove me nuts. He wasn’t playing with toys correctly. Granted, some of what he was doing wasn’t good for his mind. He was obsessing over strictly lining things up and growing agitated/upset, therefore causing himself mental anguish, whenever anything wasn’t just so with how they were set up. I get that this was something he had to work through, and through the intervention of some amazing people, he has. The trains of random objects still appear but it’s light-years away from what it was. There’s no stress around them, they just happen for fun.
If my son is doing something that causes no one stress or harm amid playing with the many toys that are crowding me out of my living room*, why should I stop him? Why should I stigmatize anything? So what if he’s rolling chip clips down the ramps he has for toy cars, he’s having fun saying “whee!” and cheering for them. It’s no skin off my teeth when he drives his new Pufferty train atop the tv stand and helps the train to “fly” around.
It’s imaginative play, the thing the experts claim children with autism have severe limitations on, and I love every single way it manifests.
The pictures on the boxes, they’re suggestions. What these kids come up with on their own, that’s just fabulous and amazing.
*= I am mostly kidding. I can still gain access to a place to sit in the living room, so I am only sort of crowded out of the living room. I’ll be completely crowded out when the rest of the toys are put together, of course! 😉