Autism and Imaginary Play

Imaginary play in autismI went in to Maggie’s room tonight to tell her that it was time to get ready for bed.  She was busy playing with her Lalaloopsy silly hair doll.  It’s a doll that comes with a whole bunch of sections of plastic hair that snap on to each other in whatever pattern you like.  I sat down to join her, slowly and quietly.  Much like the way that one approaches a rabbit in the yard, or a slice of unguarded cheesecake.  So many times I have scared her off when she is playing with something other than an ipad because she prefers to play with her toys on her own.  It’s not just me either.  Her EA has commented that when she joins in with playing with her Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Maggie gives her a dirty look, yanks the doll away, and puts it back where she wanted it.  At best Maggie won’t let us play because she has definite ideas about how her scene is going to play out, and apparently we ruin it.  At worst she gets fed up and runs away to look for food or watch shows.

So I was really excited when she let me join in on her activity.  The pieces of hair are hard to snap on, so she would choose the colour, show me where to put it, and we would snap it on together.  I got all sorts of great language out of her because I made her tell me what colour she wanted, and ask for help.  I commented that the doll’s hair was getting long, and she said “I’m Rapunzel” which was very appropriate!  She made a spontaneous comment about “silly hair” as well.  Often when Maggie is playing with her dolls she has a running script, which is common with autism, but it isn’t anything spontaneous.  It’s functional because it goes along with what the dolls are acting out, but it isn’t something that can be altered when I interject.

She even emptied part of her lalaloopsy bin looking for more pieces of hair, and after she found them PUT THE OTHER STUFF BACK!  That’s a miracle right there.  It was great.

Until I realized that we were going to be doing creepy doll hair until the sun came up because the sections seemed to be multiplying.  Pleas of “Snappy hair?” were met with insistence that it was time to go to bed.  I don’t spend that long on my own hair.

But you knew that already.

Tomorrow is the last day of school, and I hope that our play tonight was a sign of what’s to come this summer with Maggie.  I want to make more of an effort to have her help me with chores too.  She started in the lifeskills class partway through the year, and she has been having a wonderful time baking and learning practical skills as well as working on her academics.  Apparently she has mad dish drying skills that we didn’t even know about!  Housekeeping abilities are a very well-guarded secret among all the people in this house in fact.  I may enroll every single one of them in a lifeskills program this summer.

Do you think Molly Maid runs camps?


  1. Kirsten says

    Thank you for sharing that moment with your daughter. It sounds like it was very special for both you.
    I hope your summer is going well!

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