Play is one of those skills that many parents and educators to overlook a child is first diagnosed with autism or ADHD. It's easy to see why other skills like language and fine motor could be considered much more important to teach for children headed for the classroom. It's true that children need to learn language and pre-academic skills to be candidates for inclusion programs. But let's not forget the value of teaching a child to play.
There are so many benefits to teaching children to play. Communication skills are often taught to young learners through play. Children learn how to cooperate, share, and wait. These are all essential skills for language and communication. Research indicates that pretend play is positively correlated to emotional regulation and creativity. Through play, children can also learn to use abstract thought, problem solving skills, and perspective taking in pretend play scenarios. Pretend play may lead to higher level thinking and may ultimately open more doors down the road.
Singer, J.L. & Lythcott, M.A. (2004). Fostering school achievement and creativity through sociodramatic play in the classroom. In E. F. Zigler, D.G. Singer & S. J. Bishop-Joseph (Eds.) Children’s play: The roots of reading, pp. 77-93. Washington DC: Zero to Three Press.