All work and no play # 1

It is World Autism Awareness Day today. A day to not just remind ourselves that we are unaware of many many issues surrounding autism and be aware of them, but to do something about them as well. To be more proactive.

Awareness is often used with a powerful connotation. People use it to signify something, often with reference to “need of the hour” strategy. But awareness is not awareness if one doesn’t do anything about it. Autism is not  the “they are special” or “they are different” or “they are unique” part and making grand speeches. Being aware of autism entails something much more simple: acceptance and zero discrimination; creating a mutually conducive space; Providing a little bit of support if needed and if one can. And if one cannot, then refraining from discouraging others who believe they can.

There is a fine line between knowing and being aware, you see. Even if you impart this awareness to one person around you, you have been proactive to some extent. And that, makes me want to do my bit today.

There has been one loooooong post for long in my drafts that I have always wanted to share. I somehow wanted to write it very effectively. I wanted to wait until the moment when it would make an impact. I couldn’t have been more foolish. So many days wasted. Without much ado, let me share some of my thoughts in brief and supplement it with technical terms as well. I plan to do one post a month for 4 months under this section where I will talk about play and how it shapes a child/adult’s communication and behaviour.

I am sure that many if not most of you, have played some game or the other. Hide and seek, hopscotch, tic-tac-toe, monopoly, chess, thief-police, bingo, pictionary, treasure hunt and even an experimental “hypnosis” are a few of them. Sometimes, we may play unknowingly, like trying to stack a few objects one above the other, doodling, playing with food on your plate (not a good thing to do though), trying to make footprints with wet feet etc. To me play was when you are having fun. Little did I then know how powerful play can be.

Imagine a game of hide-n-seek. There is a team involved (under normal circumstances), there is turn-taking on who hides first, there is counting (where it is normal to skip tens of numbers), sharing (2 kids may want to hide behind that small shrub), eye contact and so on and so forth. There is a huge range of skills that a child develops subconsciously. There is so much of language being thrown around in context that children pick up words at the speed of the fastest bullet train when they play. I learnt counting through this and not because my kindergarten teacher made me write each number in that checkered pag, 100 times. I knew what counting was because of the game. It somehow made more sense that way. I learnt the concept of hiding and seeking through the game.I knew I had to wait for my turn to count. If I did something out of turn or context, it would go against the game.

So, you see, a simple game of hide-n-seek that signifies fun, actually stands for more. All those little games we play in our grandparents’ places mean something more. And it all points to one thing – All work and no play does indeed make Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl.

One of the first things I ask during case history is always this – “Tell me what the child likes to play”. And by the time the parents answer, I pretty much know where I need to begin. If the parents tells me that their child is playing, I feel overjoyed. I know that there is something right happening. And I know that things will only get better if this is encouraged.

But what play is good play? Are there types of play? How do I know if my child is playing the right type of play if any? Can I introduce play deliberately? All this and more in my next monthly post.




  1. Yash the PolymathGeek · April 2, 2013

    Well what do ya know!! I am the first to comment :). But a really interesting post. Piqued my interest for sure. Waiting for the rest of the series. And now if you will excuse me, I am off for my mid-morning game of hopscotch around the office. 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · April 2, 2013

      Hey there! Yes, you are first! 🙂 Yay!

      I look forward to sharing the rest of the parts as well. Enjoy your hopscotch and don’t forget to take turns 😛

  2. Destination Infinity · April 2, 2013

    It’s true, but doesn’t play come naturally to kids? I mean, is there any kid who will not want to go out and play? We would keep playing even if our mothers keep shouting and asks us to come inside!! We used to play Ice Boys, similar to hide and seek. I have some good memories of the game, but it was played when we had already learned to count!! Anyway, looking forward to read your analysis on playing… BTW: Is playing good for adults also? 🙂

    Destination Infinity

    • kismitoffeebar · April 2, 2013

      Your first question will probably be a big issue that I will try to share in my subsequent posts. But I am curious about ice boys! What’s that? I learnt counting when the “elder” ones would count 😛

      Playing is definitely good for adults 🙂

    • Jas · April 2, 2013

      DI, for kids with Autism play does not come naturally. They need to be taught team behavior, social behavior. Toffee can answer that is detail 🙂

      • kismitoffeebar · April 2, 2013

        And Jas is absolutely right. Some kids with autism may limit their play repertoire to specific games and usually solitary in nature. In my subsequent post, I will talk in detail about play and then we will appreciate how it maybe absent in some children and what consequences it may have.

  3. greenboochi · April 2, 2013

    Kismi.. your post hit the right chord. Only this morning I watched a show during my breakfast on a couple who run free schools around TN state for spl children. They do it as a service supporting around 100 children from around the state, especially from remote villages who doesnt even know what cerebral palsy is or autism is. I was truly touched by their gesture and the way they are running the school all the while taking care of their 14yr old cerebral palsy child. I am waiting to read your loooong draft post.

    And now, I have never thought play more than fun as well. These days, I too see it in different light. Playing teaches so many things right? Eagerly waiting to read your next post.

    • kismitoffeebar · April 2, 2013

      Gb, that is so moving! There are a handful of such awesome people who draw strengths from what others call weaknesse. Playing definitely teaches a lot more and am so glad you are of the same opinion 🙂
      Look forward to writing more! 🙂

  4. Jas · April 2, 2013

    Tight hugs Toffee. If you were here in front of me, I would have given you a big tight hug. 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · April 2, 2013

      🙂 I am coming to your place for it if you don’t get here soon 🙂 Hugs right back Jas 🙂

  5. The Girl Next Door · April 2, 2013

    A beautifully written, informative post! I always knew play helped develop social skills, but hadn’t thought about it in quite so much depth. Thank you for this post. Eagerly looking forward to the next installment.

    • kismitoffeebar · April 2, 2013

      Thank you so much TGND ! 🙂 You are absolutely right – it does enhance a lot of social skill development. I look forward to sharing more here 🙂

  6. chattywren · April 2, 2013

    Interesting post, very informative. Would love to read more, do post soon!

  7. Filter Kaapi · April 2, 2013

    Whoa.. that is so much informative.. waiting for more 🙂
    In my case, I guess I stopped playing so much around the age of 14.. We had shifted house yet again around that time, and unlike the school setting where you have the environment set to make friends, I found it very awkward to join complete strangers for a game.. And by the time, i was comfortable and started making friends, we shifted yet again!

    • kismitoffeebar · April 2, 2013

      Thanks Filter Kaapi 🙂 Hmm, constantly on the move does have its pros and cons. But playing till 14 is great! Am sure you and bloke still play around! 🙂

  8. eschris · April 3, 2013

    Yeah so many articles surrounding “autism”, even in the newspaper. I think most educated people, do have the decency to accept and encourage special people, without being discriminative. Infact, they feel happy seeing the person making a challenging effort in life.

    • kismitoffeebar · April 4, 2013

      Yes, there seems to be more sharing these days. Yes, there are supportive people but there is a need for this to increase. Sometimes, little everyday struggles are lost in the face of glorified ads and serials/movies.

  9. Roshni · April 3, 2013

    This is so informative, kismi, and I’m waiting for your further posts on this!

  10. techie2mom · April 4, 2013

    “Being aware of autism entails something much more simple: acceptance and zero discrimination; creating a mutually conducive space; Providing a little bit of support if needed and if one can. ” – You are bang on!!!
    Zini too learnt her counting by playing Hide and seek!!!

    • kismitoffeebar · April 5, 2013

      Ah, my dear Zini 🙂 Makes so much sense like that to me 😛

  11. ashreyamom · April 5, 2013

    informative and interesting post. certainly something i have never thought of..

  12. Amit · April 5, 2013

    A very informative post. Usually we do not look at things in a different perspective unless someone points out another angle.

    • kismitoffeebar · April 6, 2013

      Thanks Amit 🙂 Ya, I guess that is one beauty of reading blogs 🙂

  13. pixie · April 5, 2013

    i didn’t know so many things about Autism.
    Very informative and sensitive post Kismi!
    Looking forward to the rest of the series…

  14. diatriblog · April 8, 2013

    Your post struck a chord. I have an autistic nephew. So many things that we consider second nature have to be taught to him, with a GREAT amount of patience. Anyway, I still play whenever I get the chance. And not just adult games, when we cousins get together, we play everything starting with simple tag to hide and seek 🙂

    • kismitoffeebar · April 9, 2013

      A very warm welcome here! 🙂

      It is great that you play all those awesome games. True, some children with autism do need to be taught some skills we take for granted. I like to believe that a strong play behaviour reinforces a lot of skills 🙂

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