A Parent’s Guide to Interactive Play for Children with Autism

March 26, 2021 | 4 Min Read

We’re all different, with our own unique experiences and perspectives, and that’s what makes life beautiful. Some of us are amazing with numbers, some are insanely creative and others are naturally gifted in sports. As a parent, it’s a constant joy and challenge to discover where your child thrives.

World Autism Day (April 2) and Month are reminders to be understanding and inclusive to those with unique challenges. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is different for all but can mean having “challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.” ASD can also mean sensory sensitivities like being bothered by sudden loud noises or relaxed by visual or tactile activities. This brings us to the story of the Wee family! They found ways to better cope with these challenges and encourage interactive play.

Meet the Wees! 

They’re a lovely family of three — Stacey (mom), David (dad), and Braylee Wee (daughter) — currently living in Minnesota, USA. Like many other families, they have interests that vary from cute little animals to hockey, swimming, music and art.

Around Braylee’s second birthday, she was diagnosed with autism. They started a family vlog to share their journey and spread autism awareness and acceptance. For Braylee, her ASD makes her sensitive to sensory input, so she tends to seek it out with anything tactical, visual, or pressure-based.

Stacey and David use a combination of tools and strategies to help Braylee. Certain activities or devices help to engage their daughter in interactive play. After being gifted a set of Nanoleaf Canvas light squares by a close family member, they discovered that the panels helped her vocalize, follow direction, and provide visual sensory input. An extra bonus is that Stacey and David can use them to interact with her too. And because the brightness of the Canvas light squares can be adjusted, it’s easy to control if it becomes overwhelming.

Braylee’s favorite Interactive Scene to use with her Nanoleaf Canvas panels is “Touch Paint.” This Scene allows her to play with and paint her panels like a digital piece of artwork, all through touch. She can select her favorite colors and then paint them to the exact color intensity she wants them to be. Braylee also likes the Rhythm Music Visualizer; sometimes she likes to just sit and watch as the music dances across the panels.

Autism is different for each individual, so no two stories are ever the same. But this is the reason the Wee family thinks Nanoleaf’s smart lighting panels could help others facing similar challenges. They feel the “ability to customize the lights and all the different interactions create so much possibility”, and that “it’s also a great way for parents to interact with their kids with autism.”

As a next step, David and Stacey plan to add Nanoleaf commands to Braylee’s speaking device so she can control the Canvas panels with their Amazon Alexa. We’re excited to continue to follow this journey with the Wee family, and you too can follow along on their social channels: YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Do you have a story like the Wee’s? We would love to hear it, share your story with us!

Learn more here about how Nanoleaf is partnering with individuals and organizations to help those with sensory needs.

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