Psychologists have studied children for many decades and have found that early problems in play have a strong negative impact on social relationships. This is the case not only during childhood— there are lasting negative effects on adult relationships.
While play may seem to be simply a source of fun, it is actually a crucial aspect of children’s development. Through play, children develop complex social skills that allow them to interact with others, form friendships, develop empathy, and resolve conflicts, skills they will use throughout their lifetime. By the end of preschool, most children have acquired complex social skills that will serve as a foundation for future relationships.
These early skills are displayed in cooperative play, an advanced form of play that involves sophisticated cognitive, emotional, and social skills where the children must respond to one another’s actions, words, and behavior. Emotions are a large part of cooperative play, and children must understand and respond to their playmate’s feelings as well as regulate their own. They resolve differences and disputes through negation, a key skill in getting along with others.
The solitary and rigid play patterns of Asperger’s Disorder children interfere with the natural course of using play to develop proper social skills.