Toys are great. They help children develop their motor skills. They help them learn colors, basic count, animals and much more.
Toys also have great effect with mental development. Stuffed animals in particular are known to be a way to help combat depression.
Now scientists think toys and stuffed animals can actually help with autism treatment. “We individualize therapy to each child already. So, if the child has an affinity for certain animated characters, it’s absolutely worth studying a therapy that incorporates those characters meaningfully,” said Kevin Pelphrey, director of the child neuroscience laboratory at Yale University in the US to the Mirror.
Scientists say many parents of autistic children already do this instinctively. They become the character while they play with their child and this actually helps kids be more social.
Pelphrey joined with John D E Gabrieli of MIT and Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge. They want to hold a full scientific study of the approach they call “affinity therapy”. This would explore the actual effects of using toys and characters a child already has affinity for into his or hers autism therapy.
So far, their idea is only a theory. But they say they have heard and seen effects of such treatments on some kids. It’s likely that the toy therapy will not be effective for all children with autism since the disorder is very diverse and has different effects. It’s also highly individual. Still, most kids seem to respond well to it, although some will have slower progress than others.