When we discovered Daughter #1's challenges around the age of three, one thing we noticed after reflection and meeting with the doctors is how much she struggled with pretend play. Most of her play involved physical play with others, stacking, carrying around piles of toys, and scripting (repeating large chunks of dialogue) movies or television shows. She enjoyed art projects of all kinds, so we figured she would be an artist. Sometimes it was hard to watch.
In the past few years, she has been able to do a lot more pretend play. This is a good thing--pretend play is not only a path to greater brain development, but also a benchmark for brain development. The challenge to this path was the pretend play was by herself. For the most part Daughter #1 has played alongside kids and struggled to maintain a conversation.
Our daughters are best friends. Daughter #2 has been the greatest gift imaginable to her older sister. For the past several weeks, the girls have played WITH each other for hours upon hours. Sometimes for 2-3 hour stretches, with a minimal amount of tears. Their favorite activity is playing doctor and hospital. Daughter #1 should be doing a lot of things. She should be doing extra activity for speech therapy, homework, reading, etc. I can't stop these kids from playing to do what the adults think is important. For years I have wondered whether Daughter #1 would have the joys of playing with another child, while giving joy to another child simultaneously. I have seen the reciprocation of joy, and there's enough left over for me.