Imitative Play Strategies

The child may only be vaguely aware of someone imitating him, particularly at first. You may be in light physical contact with him. He may get the idea of what you are doing, especially if it’s a whole body movement, just by being near you. If he feels safe enough, he may reach out and touch you or the object you are touching to get more information.

The adult imitates the child.

    • The child’s main area of interest, or topic, is sometimes her own body. This is especially with children who don’t have a lot of easy access to input outside their bodies. These are the types of activities that have been referred to as stimulatory behaviors, or “stimming”. They may consist of whole body movements, like rocking or swaying, or of smaller movements, like tapping the hand on the chin, twirling the hair, etc.
    • The topic may be an object. If our students interact with objects, they might have a certain thing they like to do with those objects. This is a way they learn about objects. It is also a topic of interest to them. This is not the time to teach them what to do with an object, but rather, to learn from them by doing what they do with the object. This can include auditory games that they do with objects. They might tap, shake, etc. Doubles of objects are important when the child will not share the object or let you touch it. Procure identical or similar objects to the preferred ones so that you can imitate the student’s action without stealing her toy.
    • The topic may be the voice. Respond with your voice to the child’s voice. Even children with profound hearing impairments can feel the vibration of the sound resonating within another person’s chest if there is close physical contact.

Video Examples

Student Guides the Teacher

In the video example below, the teacher is giving the student pressure on his head and rubbing his neck, following his lead. The student guides the teacher’s hands to his head, which is his topic.


Mirroring Actions with Light Contact

In the video example below, the student sways back and forth and the teacher sways back and forth while trying to engage him in a lotion activity. They have occasional light contact.


Imitating Something New That The Student Introduces

In this video, the student acts upon an object and the teacher imitates what he is doing. At one point, she surprises him by imitating the new thing that he had just done, which was using two objects together.


Video Tutorial:  Imitative Play Strategies

TSBVI Outreach Consultant TVI Sara Kitchen delivers part three of this seven-part web training series on Interaction and Bonding.

Sara Kitchen
TSBVI Outreach Consultant TVI Sara Kitchen delivers part three of this seven-part web training series on Interaction and Bonding.