Play Based Therapy for Autism

By July 1, 2024 July 10th, 2024 ESDM
Young girl in an Early Start Denver Model ESDm play based early intervention session with a Certified ESDM Therapist in Bondi Junction and Mascot in Sydney

What is Play-Based Therapy for Children with Autism?

Play-based therapy is a fun and effective way to help children with autism learn and grow. This type of therapy uses play to teach important skills, making learning enjoyable and natural for kids. Let’s explore what play-based therapy is, why it’s beneficial, and how it specifically supports children with autism.

What is Play-Based Therapy?

Play-based therapy uses play as the main way to engage children and teach new skills. Unlike more structured therapies, play-based approaches are led by the child’s interests. Therapists guide the play to reach goals like improving communication, social interaction, thinking skills, and motor skills.

Key Parts of Play-Based Therapy

1. Child-Centered Approach

Therapy focuses on what the child likes and enjoys, making sessions more engaging and motivating.

2. Natural Settings

Therapy happens in everyday places like home, preschool, or the playground. This helps children use their new skills in real-life situations.

3. Interactive and Fun

Therapists use toys, games, and imagination to make therapy enjoyable and keep children interested.

4. Developmental Focus

Activities are designed to match the child’s current abilities and gently push them to learn more.

Why Play-Based Therapy is Great for Children with Autism

1. Better Communication Skills

Through play, children practice speaking and understanding others. They learn to express themselves and have conversations.

2. Improved Social Skills

Play involves interacting with others, helping children with autism learn to take turns, share, and read social cues.

3. Encourages Creativity and Flexibility

Play-based therapy helps children think creatively and become more flexible in their thinking.

4. Builds Motor Skills

Playing with toys and doing activities helps improve both fine and gross motor skills.

5. Reduces Anxiety and Stress

Play is fun and can help children feel relaxed and happy, making them more open to learning.

6. Skills for Everyday Life

Since therapy happens in natural settings, children are more likely to use their new skills in daily life.

Examples of Play-Based Therapy Activities

  • Pretend Play: Playing house, doctors, or superheroes to develop imagination and social skills.
  • Building and Constructing: Using blocks or Legos to improve problem-solving and motor skills.
  • Art and Craft Activities: Drawing, painting, and crafting to encourage creativity and fine motor skills.
  • Sensory Play: Using sand, water, or playdough to explore textures and improve sensory processing.
  • Interactive Games: Playing games that require taking turns and interacting with others to enhance social skills.

Why ESDM is More Play-Based Than ABA

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a type of play-based therapy that combines the best parts of developmental and behavioural approaches. Here’s why ESDM stands out:

  • Engaging and Fun: ESDM uses play to teach skills, making therapy enjoyable for children.
  • Natural Learning: ESDM happens in everyday settings, helping children apply skills in real life.
  • Parent Involvement: ESDM actively involves parents, training them to use therapy techniques at home.
  • Holistic Development: ESDM focuses on overall development, including social, communication, and thinking skills, not just behaviour.


Play-based therapy, especially the ESDM, is a wonderful way to support children with autism. It makes learning fun and natural, helping children develop important skills while enjoying themselves.

Contact Us

If you want to learn more about play-based therapy and how it can benefit your child, please contact us at OneOnOne Children’s Therapy. Our team of ESDM certified therapists is here to support your child’s development through fun and engaging play activities. We are New South Wales largest ESDM clinic. Our clinic in Sydney’s Bondi Junction and Mascot are purpose built. This allows our Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Certified ESDM Therapists to give your child the best outcome.

Call us at (02) 80657837
Email us to book a consultation

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