The Role of Peer Guided Play for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Amy M. Papacek, Ph.D.
Arizona State University


Childhood play has a well-established role in the development of social and cognitive skills that may have important implications for intervention with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Yet, social and language skills of children with ASD are developmentally different from those of typically developing children, although these differences should not exclude children from being considered able to play.  When implementing play interventions, it is important to remember why all children need to play and how their play affects their exploration of the world around them. This case study emphasizes the importance of peer-mediated play for children with ASD in early childhood settings by examining the actions of a pair of children engaging in play activities.  Play interactions were mediated through guided participation and modeling by the peer.  One child has been described by parents and teacher as being identified on the moderate to severe end of the autism spectrum.

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