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Research Article  |   January 2005
Object Play in Infants With Autism: Methodological Issues in Retrospective Video Analysis
Author Affiliations
  • Grace T. Baranek, PhD, OTR/L, is Associate Professor, Division of Occupational Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Correspondence address: CB#7120 UNC-CH, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7120; gbaranek@med.unc.edu
  • Carolyn R. Barnett, MS, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Randolph County Schools, Asheboro, North Carolina
  • Erin M. Adams, MS, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Durham Public Schools, Durham, North Carolina
  • Nancy A. Wolcott, MS, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Lynne Israel & Associates, Washington, DC
  • Linda R. Watson, EdD, CCC-SLP, is Associate Professor, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Elizabeth R. Crais, PhD, CCC-SLP, is Professor, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Technology
Research Article   |   January 2005
Object Play in Infants With Autism: Methodological Issues in Retrospective Video Analysis
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2005, Vol. 59, 20-30. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.1.20
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2005, Vol. 59, 20-30. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.1.20
Abstract

OBJECTIVES. Using a taxonomy of object play, this study describes methodological issues in using retrospective video analysis and computer-based coding as a research tool for early identification of autism.

METHOD. Home videos of 32 infants with autism (n = 11), developmental delay (n = 10), and typical development (n = 11) were edited and analyzed for duration and highest level of object play in four hierarchical categories (exploratory, relational, functional, symbolic) using The Observer 3.0.

RESULTS. The three groups had similar levels of engagement with objects, and no statistically significant differences in duration of exploratory play. Higher levels of play were rarely evident at 9–12 months, however, the highest level achieved (functional play) was apparent only in the typical group.

CONCLUSION. This study provides the first naturalistic investigation of object play skills in infants with autism ages 9–12 months. It also demonstrates feasibility for using computer-based coding technology within the context of retrospective video analysis methods. Duration of exploratory play was not a discriminating feature of autism at this early age.