Using puppets for kids with autism can be the highlight of play dates

Lydia Ladybug, Dino the Dog, Leo the Lion, and Roger Rabbit pose for a photo. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Playing with puppets is an excellent way for children with autism and other special needs to practice spontaneous, imaginary, and symbolic play, which can help bring children who think concretely into the world of abstract concepts and ideas.

Play dates can enhance social skills, emotional awareness, and learning, and symbolic play can take learning a step further by enabling kids to take part in scenarios to help them understand how the world works.

Children with low verbal skills often undergo intensive verbal behavior analysis, speech therapy, and even oral motor exercises.  These therapies are often successful to various degrees, but playing with puppets can also bring out speech development and help kids use what they have learned in a natural environment.

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