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Imgainary play
  • I've been reading through lots of posts and many of you state that your children are really into imaginary play, is this where maybe my son doesn' meet the full criteria as I feel he has hardly no imagination and only recites/acts out what he has seen on telly.

    I'm confused :o :shock:
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,582

    I can see why you might be confused.

    PDA children are said to have better imagination than Autistic children
    However remember that not every Autistic child is identical and not every PDA child will be exactly the same.
    I suppose what I am trying to say is that all PDA children will have varying amounts of imagination.
    When my son was diagnosed at 4, we were told he had Autism(mod/servere); however at the time I can remember saying "but he has a really good imagination" to which the Paediatrician said "well thats good and to his advantage".
    My son has never played appropriately with toys, like trains, cars etc. but he would want me to get on the floor with him and pretend to be mummy cat and baby cat for hours or until the knees in my trousers wore out!

    Tell us what kind of play he likes and whether its with you or by himself, this might help us.

  • MHO
    Posts: 111

    I think everyone has a different idea about what constitutes imagination. When my granddaughter was four or five years old it was often said that she had a good imagination, but I noticed that her play was always very imitative and repetitive. An example of what I mean is that she had two toy dogs at the time and whenever she was here with me she wanted to play vets. The previous summer she'd been to the seaside with her mother and a friend who had a dog. The dog had been stung by a jellyfish and had been taken to the vets, which was what inspired the game. In her game the toy dog had inevitably been stung by - you've guessed it! - a jellyfish. I became so bored with this constant repetition that I changed the rules and asked if I could be the dog's owner for a change, while she could be the vet. I then claimed that the dog had eaten the cat's food and it had upset his tummy. She, as the vet, recommended a bandage (not sure why) and a spoonful of Calpol, so I felt we had made progress!

    Children with PDA are described as being imitative, so that would fit in with acting out what has been seen on the telly. Some may even have the type of imagination that could lead them to be original and inventive, but I have had no experience of that in my granddaughter's case.
  • Hi thanks for the responses, when he was smaller he would act out stuff he had seen on telly, power rangers and do all the moves, he very rarely played with toys unless I basically played with the with him and showed him what to do, ost of his playing as a young child wasjumping about the place, over furniture or he would settle to do art n craft stuff, make models out of play dough.

    At the age of about 6 he would play with playmobile, but he would set it up and just talk about the set-up i.e. they are the farmers and that is the fisherman and he has caught a fish and they are going to cook it in a minute on the fire, but he never actually played with them, talking to each other etc or placing the fish on the fire.

    He will play with motorbikes now just jumpin over each other but very rarely will he talk about them and say wow what a big jump as my daughter would, he will also play with his cars banging into each other and he watches banger racing with his dad.

    He is very good at making models though and it appears he has a good imagination for this but it is always something he has seen before i.e. a fishing boat with all the cages/nets out etc or at school he was able to do a very good odel of a rollercoaster he went on some 3 years before but the picture of it must of still been in his head.

    My daughter has a fantastic imagination and loves to play many imaginaory games, she takes on the role of being a teacher a lot and re-inacting the teachers day!! hehe I know what the teacher is like in the classroom!!

    I have tried to develope his play skills but most of it seems to be copied fro programmes and hge will take on the role of an actor, but to me it's all what he has seen :roll:
  • Pamela
    Posts: 205
    Olivia has a fantatic imagination - in fact she really dopesnt know the difference between real and pretend. Ask Margo! Her son Max was really concerned when he met Olivia and she went from being fab until the transition time of leaving and turned into Narla from the Lion King. This is a very common occurance for her. She can totally reinact a whole chunk from Scooby Doo, Power Rangers, Pokemon and Ben 10! So is it really imaginary play or just copying out chunks of learned stuff?
  • mango69
    Posts: 967
    I can confirm that fact - she made a very good Narla according to Max! We are having a fair amount of Ben 10 at the moment - not sure I am entirely happy about it as they all seem to beat the **** out of each other on that programme and yes - how much of that is really imaginary because he quotes chunks out of the programme. Max does imagine some of his own stuff but once he has done it he repeats it over again and never seems to bore of it.
  • I think the key element is *social* imagination - the diagnostic criteria for ASD don't say impaired imagination, they say impaired social imagination - and this was why we felt that an ASD diagnosis was inappropriate for William as he had a very rich and varied social imagination - other people involved, lots of different voices and considering the extent of his language difficulty, very little overtly copied. The vet game only sounds unimaginative to me to the extent that it is played to the exclusion of others.

    What I see in him now at 8 is perhaps fairly typical of his age group and gender rather than indicative of an impaired social imagination but there is more repetition of themes, less real involvement of others (mind you, that's partly 'cos we can't get that interested), larger chunks copied wholesale than there used to be.
  • Lixina
    Posts: 289
    I'm very imaginative (not actually PDA but many traits). However, my imagination often is somewhat imitative - I grab ideas from various places and find my own angle on it. For example, after seeing a movie about aliens who were trying to kidnap children to sell as pets, I started pretending about that a lot. However, whereas the aliens in that movie were defeated, in my stories the children were kidnapped and were on the spaceship in cages trying to cope in various ways. I remember reading one book in which the author, in the acknowledgements section, described the exact same way that I make up stories by saying she couldn't possibly acknowledge everyone because she got her ideas from so many different sources.
  • Hope
    Posts: 23
    I am really interested in this topic of imaginative play as a Child Psycholgist. Before I did my training my Autistic foster child (now aged 32 and not a lot changed), had very little knowledge of social skills and his imagination ran to lining up cars and lego blocks! Toys such as dolls and animals did not interest him at all other than to throw at something or someone. He had some traits of demand avoidance but I would maintain that a diagnosis of Autism would be correct. he was finally diagnosed at 16 with Cornelia de Lange syndrome which has some very severe physical symptoms too.
    Since training i have met a few children with no diagnosis of ASD but who showed demand avoidance to a greater or lesser extent and their play has been different to the average child but quite imaginative. For instance , one boy was in the school play as he also had a very good memory for the script. I think what distinguished his imaginative play was that it was more egocentric - that is, more concerned with his own performance than with what the others were doing. As he developed, with specialist teaching, he was able to see things more from the others' point of view.
    I shall shortly bevisiting the Elisabeth Newson Centre so I hope to benefit from their expertise too. But yours as parents, grandparents and people who suffer from the social effects of PDA,isinvaluable. Glad to be able to listen,
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,582
    Hi Everyone

    It appears the subject of imaginary play has a few people little confused. As the mother of Jonathan 16 Asperger's and Matthew 13 PDA, I hope I can offer some help.

    1. No 2 children on the spectrum are the same! Therefore no 2 PDA children will be identical.

    2. Autistic children have very little imagination - hence they will line up cars rather than play with them on the garage ramp etc. They will repeat words heard on TV but will be unable to play/pretend to be a power ranger effectively (especially with another child).

    3. With PDA children what we see is Role Play and Pretending (try to use these words rather than imagination).

    PDA children are more comfortable with Role play and Pretending than Autistic children.
    So much so that they are sometimes better at it than normal children.

    What does the Elizabeth Newson Centre say:
    a. Some appear to loose touch with reality
    b. May take over second-hand roles as a convenient way of being ie coping strategy.
    c. May mimic and extend styles to suit mood, or to control events or people.
    d. Enjoys dolls/toy animals/domestic play.

    Many parents of PDA children say their child loves to play with dolls/cuddly toys.
    Many say their child wants/needs to take over the role of parent or teacher ie tells the teacher to move over and literally takes the class for how ever long the teacher can be prepared to put up with the change in roles. The fact is our PDA children can do it effectively for a long period of time! They have the skills and the drive to want to be in control!
    Many parents say their child truly believes they are a dinosaur and wants to be called Triceratops or he will not come when he is called for dinner etc.

    My own son and a few other PDA children I have seen have behaved in these ways to some degree. PDA children use role play etc to escape from the demands of the everyday world. If the child is pretending to be a teddy bear called Timmy and Mum is asking him to come and have a bath he may say"I can't have a bath ,I'll get my fur wet!" .

    However what I have noticed as children grow up is that these role play/ pretending behaviours lessen and more direct forms of control take over.
    When they stop pretending they use the word NO and take you on verbally or physically!
    Matthew is 13 and still uses Role play to aviod my demands but no where near as much as he used too as an 8 yr old.
    He still uses fantasy to avoid answering my questions ie "Matthew what did you do at school today?"
    "Andy's (the deputy head) got a purple rifle blaster under his desk, he is going to shoot the aliens next week blar....blar....blar"
    By this time I couldn't care less what he did at school, I'm wondering if Mr .... really has a rifle? Matthew has successfully avoided my question!!!

    Some PDA children dress up in costumes so that they can hide behind their character.
    There are lots of different forms of role play or pretendting so that our children can control us and avoid our demands.

    Enough from me. Does anyone else have anything they can add to this subject?

    A mothers perspective!......Paula
  • T is a classic role player and there are times i forget what role he is in and he shouts/gets angry with me, so he will start the conversation again making sure i address him as the character he is playing.

    When T had a sessional worker she had to bring him home early once when he told her he has to go back home as he is getting married and she needs to get her wedding dress on! thats the extreme that T goes in his role playing.

    He also says he wants to be spiderman and do all the things that he does, this has been going on yrs! also he wants to live on neptune (he studies the solar system in detail) & kryptonite (where superman is from).

    T often tells me these days 'not in my world' he says that his behaviour is due to 'the electric in his brain' all his words not mine.

    I sometimes get T to comply with demands using role play but then there r times that he will not comply and will still avoid the demand saying the character he is playing simply cannot do it, doesnt want to or they have to go buy a car or go shopping.

    T can be in character for days at a time, he was Steven Gerrard for 3 days (he is obsessed with football, scores and league tables, english & foreign) i had to address him as steven and have his football manager come for dinner, this is Ts imagination.

    He loves to pretend to cook and demanded a cooker for xmas, of course i didnt get it as he is far too old for it (he now has cooking mama for his DS) but he loves that sort of thing and playing schools, where he is the teacher.

    Bambi x
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,582
    Hi Bambi

    WOW Very typical PDA Role play/pretending! My son was just the same as a primary school child.
    My son also says "the electricity in his brain" makes him do things. He also says "let me just pull that file out of my brain" when he wants to tell me something.

    Thankyou for your examples, they were spot on!

  • Garden
    Posts: 329
    My daughter's imaginary play is very much a coping strategy. She will copy other kids at school, where she doesn't do the imaginary play, as an alternative. But at home she only ever plays at being a mummy, or a teacher, or a waitress. She will set the table and hand out plates etc if we let her pin a 'menu' on the door and have her show us to our seats. Of course she is a very bossy waitress! She loves having her younger cousin come round because he tolerates being the pupil in her very bossy classroom.

    Unfortunately, other children are generally less likely to want to play her bossy games. I am sensing that she is starting to disengage from the role-playing though - it's not quite as intense - and I was interested to read someone else say that they can grow out of it. But she still copies other children - I was at a meeting at her school today and one of the teachers commented on it.
  • Interesting how strong the role play is. L didn't get into role playing when he was younger (ie 3-4 years old when most kids get into it) and was very literal and set that he was himself. Only in the last two years has he really gotten into role play (at 7 & 8 years old). He will become a spy, or a pirate, or a super hero, etc. Unlike most kids role playing he actually "becomes" these things - he isn't "imagining it" he "is" it. It makes is very difficult sometimes to get through to him. Fortunately it isn't all the time and I can get through to him when he is in role without having to fully play along (something I'm honestly not very good at). I've always thought of it as though he is developmentally delayed when it comes to his imagination and have definitely seen some maturing in the way he plays imaginatively. I think that he will grow out of it eventually. In the meantime it is definitely interesting and unusual ;)
  • Garden
    Posts: 329

    We were told that the role-playing was a coping strategy for PDA kids. It's apparently because they don't 'know' who they are, what the boundaries between themselves and everything else are, if you see what I mean. So role playing is a handy device to get through life because it gives them sth to follow instead of having to 'be' themselves.

    Banging into things is supposed to be related to this too, apparently. We were asked if our daughter is clumsy, and at first we said, no, because she is dainty and organised. But then we thought about all the times she has tripped when climbing over e.g. a low fence, or banged into the wall on her bike, or knocked glasses over in restaurants (so frequent it's just not funny any more)...... And this was the sort of clumsiness that the paediatrician meant - it's more about them muddling their personal boundaries with the rest of the world.

    Our daughter does have an official diagnosis of PDA. She ticks every single box, except for being difficult at school. Well, she is difficult at school, but in very subtle ways. But mainly she just sits tight, keeps her head down, does as little work as possible (pretends she can't read etc and is in small remedial groups for everything), but is having increasing difficulties with the other children because she's eight now and the other children are becoming more sophisticated in their relationships and she just doesn't get it.

    She is also over-friendly to strangers and we think that this is because she sees me saying "hi" enthusiastically to people and chatting to strangers in shops etc and she just doesn't understand the subtle differences of relationships - so she thinks this approach will work with every situation.

    I have found that school were much more interested in her problems when I gave them the PDA diagnosis. And it's given me Disabilitiy Living Allowance for her and I'm on the books of various local support services. But the local authority don't recognise PDA apparently and I don't know what will happen if her problems at school become more significant. All this week we have a dreadful time trying to get her to school in the first place and she seems to be having lots of fall-outs with the other children.

  • Thanks for all the information. That makes sense about the roleplay. I do see boundary issues with L although he does have some sense of self it isn't very well developed.

    L is notorious for banging into things, getting stuck in strange places and otherwise being clumsy. He doesn't pay attention to where he is going and does not seem aware of his physical space. It can drive us crazy at times although he's pretty good at picking up after himself (after of course claiming that he didn't do it...).

    L also fits pretty much every sign of PDA. He is mostly difficult at school and is very easygoing at home in general (except when we make him do things he doesn't want to do of course). He definitely does the minimum requirement on everything, but when led to see what he could do to go the extra mile will generally do more - he just doesn't seem to see that there is an extra mile to go...

    Socially L doesn't understand personal space, taking turns (unless reminded), following other people's rules/ideas, etc. He loves playing with friends, but can't make long-term friendships. So far to him kids are "kids" and he doesn't differentiate much.

    L also is over friendly to strangers. He will walk up to anybody and start up a conversation. At least I don't worry about him taking off with a stranger any more... He'll ask the most personal questions sometimes *sigh*. At least he's very polite and cute so people generally don't mind.

    I've been very fortunate about school. They are really making an effort to help L. Of course his multiple meltdowns made functionning in class without an EA pretty much impossible...
  • I also want to say thanks for all the reply, very interesting :lol:
  • Lixina
    Posts: 289
    I used to insist the Animorphs book series was true, and pretend that I was an Animorph. I carried little twist-tye people everywhere and played with them constantly. Now, at 18, it's more internal - I'll walk along softly telling myself a story. I also role-play as certain characters, but often I won't say what I'm being, and pretend to be someone with some kind of invisible difference. Or I'll just not interact with anyone else so they don't screw up my story.
  • webbwebb
    Posts: 2,582
    Hi Lixina

    Very enlightening! My 14 year old is just the same but dragons and dinosaurs are real for him.
    Thankyou for sharing that with us.
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