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ERIC Number: EJ856152
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 47
ISSN: ISSN-0040-0599
Harnessing the Power of Play: Opportunities for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Mastrangelo, Sonia
TEACHING Exceptional Children, v42 n1 p34-44 Sep-Oct 2009
Play is a complex phenomenon that occurs naturally for most children; they move through the various stages of play development and are able to add complexity, imagination, and creativity to their thought processes and actions. However, for many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the various stages of play never truly develop, or occur in a fragmented fashion. Difficulties in motor planning, expressive and receptive communication, imitation, and fine and gross motor movements are just some of the many obstacles they encounter during play. ASD is a severe, lifelong, neurologically based condition, identifiable by deficits in imitation, gesturing, observational learning, joint attention, symbolic play, and understanding the expression of emotion. Students may also exhibit variability of intellectual functioning; uneven developmental profile; unusual perceptual responses; aggressive or self-injurious behavior; restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior; preoccupations with a restricted range of interests; obsessive routines and rituals; repetitive motor mannerisms; distress over changes in the environment and odd responses to sensory stimuli; and difficulties in sleeping, toileting, and eating. Because children with ASD generally experience difficulties in the social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive domains (all of which are essential to success in the home, school, and community) it is expected that their play experiences would also be compromised. Children with ASD have trouble initiating and sustaining their play, and typically display delayed patterns of social interaction. Extensive opportunities for play may enhance a child's awareness of other people's mental states and intentions. In this article, the author discusses the cognitive (rather than social) stages of play development because the majority of research studies on play and ASD come from the field of psychology, where such cognitive terminology is used. Further, this discussion includes peer play as a separate category because it is an important dimension of symbolic play that requires unique consideration--it is a common goal in play therapy for children with ASD. (Contains 3 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A