This study examined the effectiveness of the Picture Me Playing intervention for increasing the play dialogue of preschool children with ASD during pretend play opportunities with typical peers. Picture Me Playing is a pictorially enhanced, script based intervention targeting character role play through a narrative vignette. A single-treatment counterbalanced design was utilized to contrast the performance of intervention and comparison groups, followed by within-subject analysis. Results indicated significant increases in play dialogue represented by both scripted and novel utterances. Results generalized to an unscripted play opportunity with novel toys.
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The authors would like to thank the teachers and staff at Mitchell’s place for their support in conducting this research and Dr. John Dantzler for sharing his statistical expertise. Special gratitude is extended to the children and families who participated in this study.
Picture Me Playing Scripted Dialogue: The Magic Wand
I am going to work. Do not play with my magic wand
I will just play with it for a minute
Wow, a dinosaur!
Princess, I’m home!
What was that sound?
That was just the closet door creaking
What was that sound?
That was just my tummy growling. I am hungry
What was that?
How did this dinosaur get here?
Oops it was an accident
I played with your magic wand and changed the horse into a dinosaur. I’m sorry!
Tsk, tsk, tsk. Magic wands are for grownups
I will never play with your magic wand again
Appendix 2: Behavioral Definitions
Play dialogue (PD): Utterances that served as dialogue or verbalizations of the characters or action figures.
Sound Effects (SE): Noises or sounds made for the action figures, characters, or play objects such as the roar of a dinosaur or the creaking of a door.
Structural (S): Utterances directed at a peer to label or claim objects, give directions, make demands, organize play, assert opinions, complain, or ask for information.
Self Talk (ST): Verbal utterances directed at self such as singing songs, or echolalia not directed at the peer.
Appropriate (A): Initiating and maintaining conversations, clear and understandable comments or questions related to the activity or people in the environment, calmly expressing frustration or anger, delayed or immediate echolalia that serves a communicative purpose related to the context, expressing disagreement with, or ignoring a suggestion from a peer in a neutral manner.
Inappropriate (I): Hurtful, negative comments or questions, engaging in fights, using angry or aggressive tone, loudness, or words, self-talk not relevant to the environment, making comments or asking questions that were unclear, uninterruptible, or were not related to the activity or people in the environment, and delayed or immediate echolalia unrelated to the context or not directed at the partner.
Scripted Utterance (S): Utterances that utilized word for word scripted text (partial or complete) or differed only by a one-word insertion or change from the original scripted utterance. Changes in verb tense and use of contractions did not count as changes to a scripted utterance.
Related (R): Utterances that could be identified as an approximation of a scripted statement, utilizing some scripted and some novel words, but differing in 2 or more words.
Novel-(N): The utterance did not share enough words to be matched to a scripted utterance.
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Murdock, L.C., Hobbs, J.Q. Picture Me Playing: Increasing Pretend Play Dialogue of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Autism Dev Disord 41, 870–878 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-1108-6
- Pretend play
- Peer interaction
- Social communication