Why do we teach young children with ASD to clap their hands?

When was the last time you clapped your hands? Really when? You walk into your favourite shop pick out a pair of shoes and as you go to pay, the sales assistant tells you there’s an extra 50% off. Do you clap! and say, “wow that’s great!” and jump for joy? You may verbally acknowledge your joy and nonverbally show it with a smile. But clap? No, very unlikely. But teaching a young child with ASD to clap is one of the most common early skills seen on IFSPs.

When working with very young children with ASD a skill we teach is imitation, we teach children to clap because we want to teach them gross and fine motor imitation. But why is imitation one of the early learner skills and can it help communication skills to develop? Imitation is an important skill because developmentally children learn through watching and imitating others. We learn many of our essential social and self-help skills this way. So should you teach clapping? Yes but know why you are.

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