Teaching Play to Children with Autism

Teaching Play to Children with Autism

Autism Spectrum News, Spring 2023


Laura Wilhelm, MS, BCBA, LABA
Director of Early Intervention, Melmark New England


Play has been focused on as a pivotal skill for young children, as it is an important context for both cognitive development and social connection. For these reasons, play is a primary focus of instruction for children with developmental delays and disabilities. Pretend play is a social skill that emerges early in typically developing children and has been shown to be an important contributor to the development of a child’s social and language skills (MacDonald et al., 2005, 2009). For typically developing children, play often emerges in a developmental sequence of simple manipulation, discrimination between toy materials, combining or constructing toy materials to make something new, pretend play, and sociodramatic or thematic play (Lifter, 2000).


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