When do kids begin pretend play? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 08-16-2007, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone,

I am just wondering when kids typically will begin pretend play. I am filling out the GARS for my 32-month old son and he appears to do well on the social sections, for social interest anyway since he is very socially engaged with us and likes to be around other kids as well, but pretty much fails the rest as far as language and play skills go. One section is asking of development between birth to three years of age, though, and since he is not yet quite three I'm wondering how much effect that will have on the decision. The only thing I ever see him pretending to do is talk on the phone. He does not pretend anything else that I have seen, and does not seem to understand the little games that other kids play either. He will mostly only play running/chasing (if other kids chase him in play - he does not chase them purposefully back)/jumping/slides with other kids. With legos and blocks he will build towers but nothing else. He does not pretend play with favorite character toys or dolls or anything else. I seem to remember my nieces and nephews having more complex play skills by this age but they are all older than DS2 - all the younger ones have much more language than him but are young enough that their play is still very parallel versus interactive. My older DS is autistic and has never developed typically so I am not able to use him as a model.


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#2 of 4 Old 08-16-2007, 10:45 PM
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The really basic (pretend a shoe is a telephone) starts really early typically--by 18 months at the latest. My typical son it was around 12 or 13 months I think. By 18 to 24 month range you'll start to see a typically developing child start to play out or mimic what he sees you do. So he'll begin to pretend to wash dishes even when you're not doing it at that time for example or pretend to shave because he was watching daddy. Every day stuff like that--practicing being an adult I guess. For my typical guy that stage was pervasive.
The next step seems to be acting out more with other things--diapering a bear, feeding a stuffed animal, the boy gets hurt and needs to go to the doctor. You start to see kids making sense of the world through play.
My sons are a bit older now and pretend play seems to be more and more elaborate the closer we get to four.
I think pretend play can be delayed in language delays and certainly in many spectrum kids. My spectrum son has an elaborate imagination but that early mimic the adult play was largely missing. A typical 18 to 24 month old is doing that a lot.
Edited to add: at 32 months you'd be seeing more interactive play or at least observation and attempts at imitative learning from other children in a typical child too.
I'm saying all this on the basis of observing my typically developing son among his peers and in his play vs. my spectrum son. My spectrum son is also sociable but the joining in on physical stuff like chasing even though he doesn't quite get it sounds awfully familiar. He would also join cue in on yelling or other verbally active stuff other kids were doing. I know the social stuff is important for you to differentiate spectrum from other language delays as the social is where the differentiation is. If you have questions I'll try to help as I kind of have a first hand comparison of kids here. But my boys are older so I'll be operating from memory and of course every kiddo is different.

Rachelle, mommy to 8 year old boys! 

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#3 of 4 Old 08-17-2007, 12:38 AM
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Our ECI therapists have said that around 12-18mos is when you should start to see pretend play develop.
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#4 of 4 Old 08-17-2007, 12:40 AM
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Both of my kids were pretending by 12 months. DS would use a nesting block to pretend he was sipping his coffee like mommy.
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