All parents keep an eye on how their child plays with others, wondering if their child is interacting enough and is able to get along with age-mates. Most worrisome to parents is when they observe their child spending too much time alone and/or being aggressive with peers. For parents of toddlers and early-elementary children, it helps to know that each of the types of play coexist and play is spent in almost equal portions between solitary, parallel, and cooperative play.
The quality of your child’s play is more important as an indicator of difficulties than the quantity of time spent in each type of play. Your child spending a lot of time playing alone in early childhood is not necessarily problematic. However, problems are evident if he wanders aimlessly, hovers near peers but does not interact, insists on playing alone, uses repetitive meaningless movements, or does not use imagination in play.
These types of play patterns become more of a concern as the child grows older. As children enter first and second grade, they spend increasing time in cooperative play. Asperger’s Disorder children, however, continue for many years to prefer to play alone and fail to engage in pretend play.