In a survey I conducted last week ,a very high percentage of you indicated that you would like help with creating and facilitating games to help promote your child’s development.

I am thrilled to write about this topic since I am a game- geek and LOVE talking and brainstorming developmental games (check out my book: Play to Grow: Over 200 games to help your special child develop fundamental social skills).

So, what is the secret to easily creating developmental games that your child with LOVE?  Read these steps below:

*Step 1- Identify your child’s motivations.

This is key- your child’s motivation is GOLD and it is the single factor that will help your child engage with delight and be willing to stretch himself to participate in levels he wouldn’t even consider if he weren’t jazzed about what you are doing.  Plus, motivation is what makes the difference between robotic participation and sincere and spontaneous involvement.

***I am not talking about an M &M reinforcer for completing a task.  I am talking about a motivating factor inherent in the game itself so your child can experience the joy DURING- not AFTER the interaction. Remember: it is the interaction itself that what we are looking to inspire.

So, sit down alone or with your partner or other team members and make a list of your child’s motivations.
For example:
Danny’s Motivations:
-sniffing my hair

Step 2: Make a list of 3-4 of your current priority goals for your child.
For example:
Danny’s Goals:

-eye contact

-answering simple ‘what’, ‘who’ and ‘where’ questions

– asking simple ‘what’, ‘who’ and ‘where’ questions

-attention span of 7-10 minutes

Step 3:Brainstorm! 

Now that you have these two lists, you want to brainstorm how to MATCH a single motivation with a single goal to simply create an innovative game that your child will both love and grow from.

Here is a sample game so you can see how it works:
Name: The Dinosaur Search
Challenge:Asking simple ‘where’ questions
Motivation: Dinosaurs
How to Play: Find 6-7 pictures of your child’s favorite dinosaurs (this can be replaced with anything your child is motivated for) from the Internet , print and cut them out. Hide the dinosaurs on your body; for example you can tape one under the front of your shirt , another under the back, stick one in each sock, etc. Tell your child that you have dinosaurs hiding all over you and encourage him to ask you “where is the dinosaur?” in order to find out where it is hiding. Hand the dinosaur to your child as you model the answer by saying “This dinosaur is in my sock!”.  Then encourage your child to ask you where the next dinosaur is.  Continue the game until your child has found and received all of the dinosaurs.

Props: Pictures of dinosaurs, scissors and tape.

Plus, I would love to hear your comments/questions about this article- please post below!