Research Article
Issue Date: February 1994
Published Online: February 01, 1994
Updated: April 30, 2020
Play and Preschool Children With Autism
Author Affiliations
  • Gayle Restall, MSc, BMR (OT), is Assistant Director, Occupational Therapy Department, Health Sciences Centre, 820 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3A 1R9
  • Joyce Magill-Evans, PhD, OT(C), is Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Research
Research Article   |   February 01, 1994
Play and Preschool Children With Autism
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 1994, Vol. 48, 113-120.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 1994, Vol. 48, 113-120.
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Objectives. This research focused on two questions. First, how does the play of children with autism differ from that of normally developing children? Second, what are the relationships between play performance and adaptive abilities?

Method. Nine children with autism and nine children without dysfunction were matched by mental age, gender, and socioeconomic status. Play performance was determined from videotapes of children playing in their homes. Parents provided information on children’s adaptive abilities.

Results. The children with autism differed from their peers on the total play score and the participation dimension of the Preschool Play Scale. Communication, as measured by the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, was the adaptive ability most highly associated with play performance of the children with autism.

Conclusion. The results suggest that deficits in social development are a primary feature of autism. The findings support the use of play to evaluate and develop the interpersonal skills and habits of preschool children with this disorder.