If your child has autism, should you push them to play with you? Or, should you leave them alone? What should you do about self-stimulatory play? How can you create down time for yourself and your child with autism?

There are different types of ways to create “downtime” if your child has autism, notes Dr. Greenspan. “If you have a child with autism that is capable of reading a book, that’s terrific; give them regular down time. If the child is capable of doing a crossword, that’s great; give them regular downtime and then balance it through the day.

If your child with autism is only capable of self-stimulatory play (self-stimming) where they’re rubbing a spot on the floor, or lining up their toys, or self-injurious activities where they’re banging their head, we want to minimize that kind of downtime because it’s destructive,” urges Dr. Greenspan.

If the child can’t interact yet, or can’t think for themselves because they don’t have the ability, we have to use play in a pleasurable, relaxing way so they don’t lapse into stressful or catastrophic systems. “Gradually, there is time for independent work when the child has the capability,” says Dr. Greenspan, because “there are varying levels of interaction with Floortime. Some of it is very soothing, but self-stimulation is not.”

Learn more about Dr. Stanley Greenspan and the Greenspan Floortime approach. If you are new, we have a background and introduction to Greenspan Floortime including how it helps special needs children. We also have Greenspan Floortime training courses at Floortime U. specifically designed for parents and professionals including the Floortime Manual.