Two people sit back to back on a floor, one reading a book, the other reading a tablet

Parallel Play

Parallel play: some people call this being alone together, as in when you’re both reading your own books in the same room, or one person is doing a puzzle while another plays a video game, etc. Just existing together counts too.


Header image credit: “Parallel Play” by Betsy Selvam is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

We enjoy parallel play and shared activities that don’t require continual conversation. When we talk, it gets deep quickly. We discuss what’s real, our struggles, fears, desires, obsessions. We appreciate a good infodump, and there’s no such thing as oversharing. We swap SAME stories — sharing a time when we felt similarly in our own life, not as a competition, but to reflect how well we are listening to each other.

Lost in Translation: The Social Language Theory of Neurodivergence | by Trauma Geek | Medium

I want to spend time in parallel existence with you; let’s be alone together.

neurowonderful — neurowonderful: They’re here! Because you…

There’s something so nice about just existing in the same space with someone. Just getting to spend time with them and maybe you do something together or maybe you do homework while they play a game and you both have headphones on. There’s no expectations for anyone to do anything. It’s just nice to be there, no matter what happens.

Colonel Meme – There’s something so nice about just existing in…

Parallel play is when people do separate activities with each other, not trying to influence each others behavior. I like socializing and I get lonely; I like company even though I don’t like group activities, group conversations, group games, small talking, or large groups in general… I prefer being in someone’s company while doing my own activity. It is much less mentally taxing. With parallel play, I can be myself and communicate when I want to.

Parallel Play and Autism | GENDERVOID MEGAVERSE

If you imagine that an autistic kid at school is likely to be wrenched out of their attention tunnel multiple times every day, each time leading to disorientation and deep discomfort, you are on your way to understanding why school environments can be so stressful for many autistic students. If you can avoid contributing to that, you may find that you have an easier time with your autistic students: try entering into their attention tunnel when you can, rather than tugging them out of it. Parallel play is one powerful tool for this; start where the child is, show interest in what they’re focused on. If you do need to pull them out of whatever they’re focusing on, it’s best to give them a bit of time.

Craft, Flow and Cognitive Styles

Parallel play is a neurodivergent love locution.

Further reading,