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In this video series, our staff member Chantal will share with the do’s and don’ts of engaging in play with children on the autism spectrum. Play is not only fun but it promotes language, emotional well-being, cognitive functioning and benefits both physical and social development.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Learn how to use visual schedules for your child and how to create them! Visual schedules support communication to the learner about daily tasks and upcoming events by providing a visual icon to create the schedule.

About the Ontario Autism Program

The Ontario Autism Program (OAP) offers support to families of children and youth on the autism spectrum. Children and youth who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by a qualified professional are eligible for the program. Children receive services and supports until the age of 18.

How to Register with the Ontario Autism Program (OAP)

  1. Register for the OAP through AccessOAP at
  2. Then provide all supporting documentation requested by AccessOAP.
  3. After creating your account, you will be able to interact with AccessOAP to learn about the services and supports available to you and your child.

You DO NOT need to register again if you:

  • have previously registered your child for the OAP
  • already submitted a registration for and supporting documents to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services

Navigating the OAP can be overwhelming. Strides Toronto’s expert team of workers are here to support you along the way, from registering for the OAP to accessing services and supports.

We are on hand to answer any questions you may have about the OAP and/or our autism services.

Communicating with your autistic child during play

  • Give meaning to your child’s actions
  • Adjust your language
  • Model around your child’s focus of interest
  • Expand your child’s language
  • Provide focused stimulation
  • Avoid questions

Ways to make play interactive

  • Let your child choose the activity
  • Stay face to face with your child
  • Join in your child’s play
  • Comment on play without giving commands
  • Wait for your child to engage with you
  • Control the situation
  • Imitate your child
  • Be animated

Ways to encourage your child to request

  • In sight & out of reach: Put the preferred items where the child can see but cannot access on their own.
  • Control access: Take control of the object, to encourage your child to come to you and look at you more.
  • Assistance: Use toys other than activities that child needs assistance to activate or engage. You should wait for your child to initiate for help.
  • Inadequate portions: Provide only small portions of a part of a desired item then wait for your child to ask for more.
  • Sabotage: When your child is familiar with multiple parts of an activity or toy, you could withhold a part to encourage the child to request the missing item. This strategy is only effective when your child has a concept of all parts of an activity.

Delivering an instruction to your child

Get their attention:

1. Make sure your child is next to or across from you.
2. Get their attention by moving down to their eye level, calling their name or tapping their shoulder.

For example: before giving the instruction, get down to your child’s eye level and call their name “Hi John, look here”.

Be clear:

When you deliver the instruction make sure you are clear and direct and only say it once. Use instructions appropriate for your child’s level of understanding.

For example: if you want your child to come and sit at the table you can say “sit down in chair”.

Wait for a response:

1. After you’ve delivered the instruction, wait for your child to respond for about 3 to 5 seconds.
2. During the wait period make sure you are not giving other instructions and you are giving them a chance to respond.

For example: giving John a few seconds to respond to your instruction before you say anything else.

Give praise:

If your child has responded to your instruction correctly, make sure to let them know how they did!

For example: you can say “nice sitting” or “good sitting in chair” to reinforce their positive behaviour.

Learn about the Autism services available for children and families at Strides Toronto in the city’s east end.