ERIC Number: ED365068
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
A Case Illustration of the Impact of Peer Play on Symbolic Activity in Autism.
Wolfberg, Pamela; Schuler, Adriana
This study presents a qualitative description of changes in social and symbolic behaviors in an African-American girl with autism over a period of 10 years (from age 5 to 15 years), with emphasis on ages 9 to 11. The primary purpose of the investigation was to elucidate the process ultimately leading to reciprocal social relations and symbolic representation, and to understand the context that supported this change. Dramatic changes were observed during the time she participated in a peer play intervention, including advances from isolated to socially coordinated play with peers; presymbolic to imaginative play activity; and parallel symbolic transformations in spoken language, written language, and drawing. The study concluded that reciprocity, communicative interaction, and symbolic imagery in play and related representational activity emerged when the child was provided with sufficient social support. The case study suggests that autistic children's awareness of other people's mental states and intentions may be enhanced through guided play experiences, and deficits in symbolic operations commonly ascribed to autism may be better explained as secondary to social isolation rather than as basic cognitive deficiencies. (Contains 11 references.) (JDD)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: African Americans; Theory of Mind
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (60th, New Orleans, LA, March 25-28, 1993).