, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 139-148

The symbolic and object play of children with autism: A review

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Abstract

The unique characteristics of autistic children's symbolic and object play are presented and discussed in the context of a literature review covering research since 1964. Several theoretical issues are highlighted: the relationship of play in facilitating language and cognition, play as an intervention, and play as an assessment tool. Difficulties in research methodology due to pooling autistic and schizophrenic subject are raised, as well as possible difficulties inherent in ignoring severity levels within the autistic population. The appropriateness of play therapy is questioned, and evidence is presented to provide encouragement for further inquiry into the study of autistic play.

This article was written in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master's degree in psychology at the University of Colorado at Denver under the direction of Carolyn Simmons, Ph.D. The author wishes to thank Gordon Farley, M.D., Eben Ingram, Ph.D., Carolyn Simmons, Ph.D., and Graham Sterritt, Ph.D., for their wisdom, patience, encouragement, and good humor.