Is It Possible to Expand a Child’s Narrow Interests?

For parents of children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of the ongoing challenges they face is finding ways to diversify their child’s interests. 

Many children with ASD have restricted interests, and they may be reluctant to play with unfamiliar toys or engage in unfamiliar activities. These are some approaches you can use to help your child expand his or her interests:

Rotate your child’s toys.

The more toys your child plays with—and the more varied they are—the better. Discovering new activities may help your child’s brain development and may encourage independent exploration. To foster this, you might try categorizing your child’s toy collection and bringing out different toys every week, every afternoon, or even every hour.

Encourage your child to use different toys.

Your child may need some incentive before he or she picks up a new toy and starts playing with it. Model the use of the new toy; if you can generate excitement, the child will be more likely to seek out that toy in the future.

Give your child a choice.

You can encourage your child to try out a new toy for the first time by presenting it as a choice between several toys. For example, you might place a number of toys on a shelf in your child’s room and tell your child that he or she can pick one to play with for the next hour.

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