Mirroring movement: why it’s good for children with disability or autism
Mirroring movement is a simple play activity that involves copying someone’s movements, like you’re in a mirror.
Mirroring movement activities help children with disability or autism improve their physical coordination and gross motor skills.
These activities also give children the chance to work together, building relationships and empathy for others. Children also get to experience taking the lead and following others.
What you need for a mirroring movement activity
All you need for a mirroring movement activity is two or more people. They can be an adult and a child, or two children.
You can also do mirroring movement games in small or large groups with one person leading the movement for the others.
How to do mirroring movement activities
- Stand facing each other.
- Choose one person to be the leader and one person to be the ‘mirror’. The leader does movements for the other person to copy. The mirror copies the leader’s movements exactly, as though they’re in a mirror.
- Don’t physically touch each other. Just watch each other closely and copy the movements.
- Take turns being the leader and the mirror.
The movements could be anything from whole-body movements to facial expressions. Try to make the movements slow and deliberate so the other person can keep up.
Adapting mirroring movement activities to suit children with diverse abilities
For children who find eye contact difficult, here are some things to try:
- Focus on hands and arms instead of looking directly at faces.
- Do the movements side by side instead of facing each other.
- Mirror movements by using objects like a digger truck or toy animal.
For children with restricted mobility, you could move just arms or just legs. You could also try copying facial expressions and head movements.
For children with a lot of energy, try mirroring using the whole body, with big movements like jumping, swaying arms, stretching, crouching or shaking.
Looking for more play and learning ideas for your child? You might like to explore our other activity guides. Some of these have been created for typically developing children, but they can all be adapted to suit children with diverse strengths and abilities.