Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 830–845

Integrated Play Groups: Promoting Symbolic Play and Social Engagement with Typical Peers in Children with ASD Across Settings

  • Pamela Wolfberg
  • Mila DeWitt
  • Gregory S. Young
  • Thanh Nguyen
Original Paper

Abstract

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) face pervasive challenges in symbolic and social play development. The Integrated Play Groups (IPG) model provides intensive guidance for children with ASD to participate with typical peers in mutually engaging experiences in natural settings. This study examined the effects of a 12-week IPG intervention on the symbolic and social play of 48 children with ASD using a repeated measures design. The findings revealed significant gains in symbolic and social play that generalized to unsupported play with unfamiliar peers. Consistent with prior studies, the outcomes provide robust and compelling evidence that further validate the efficacy of the IPG model. Theoretical and practical implications for maximizing children’s developmental potential and social inclusion in play are discussed.

Keywords

Play Social Symbolic Peers Inclusion Sociocultural 

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2006). Knowledge and skills needed by Speech-Language Pathologists for diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders across the life span. http://www.asha.org/policy/KS2006-00075.htm. doi:10.1044/policy.KS2006-00075.
  4. Attwood, A., Frith, U., & Hermelin, B. (1988). The understanding and use of interpersonal gestures by autistic and Downs syndrome children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 18, 241–257.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bakeman, R. (2000). Behavioral observations and coding. In H. T. Reis & C. K. Judd (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in social psychology. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Baron-Cohen, S. (1987). Autism and symbolic play. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 5(2), 139–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bauminger, N., & Kasari, C. (2000). Loneliness and friendship in high-functioning children with autism. Child Development, 71(2), 447–456.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bottema-Beutel, K. (2011). The negotiation of footing and participation structure in a social group of teens with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders., 2, 61–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boucher, J., & Wolfberg, P. J. (2003). Editorial special issue on play. Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, 7(4), 339–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown, S. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York: Avery-Penguin.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, F. (2012). Playwork, play deprivation and play: An interview with Fraser Brown. American Journal of Play, 4(3), 267–283.Google Scholar
  12. Calder, L., Hill, V., & Pellicano, E. (2013). Sometimes I want to play by myself: Understanding what friendship means to children with autism in mainstream primary schools. Autism, 17(3), 296–316.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Carter, A., Davis, N. O., Klin, A., & Volkmar, F. R. (2005). Social development in autism. In F. Volkmar, R. Paul, A. Klin, & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorders (3rd ed., pp. 312–334). NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  14. Chamberlain, B., Kasari, C., & Rotheram-Fuller, E. (2007). Involvement or isolation? The social networks of children with autism in regular classroom. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 230–242.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Charman, T., & Baron-Cohen, S. (1997). Brief report: Prompting pretend play in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27, 325–332.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Corbett, B. A., Schupp, C. W., Simon, D., Ryan, N., & Mendoza, S. (2010). Elevated cortisol during play is associated with age and social engagement in children with autism. Molecular Autism, 1(13), 1–12.Google Scholar
  17. Dawson, G., Jones, E. J., Merkle, K., Venema, K., Lowy, R., Faja, S., et al. (2012). Early behavioral intervention is associated with normalized brain activity in young children with autism. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(11), 50–1159.Google Scholar
  18. DiSalvo, C., & Oswald, D. (2002). Peer-mediated socialization interventions for children with autism: A consideration of peer expectancies. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 17, 198–207.Google Scholar
  19. Dissanayake, C., Signman, M., & Kasari, C. (1996). Long-term stability of individual differences in the emotional responsiveness of children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 37(4), 462–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dominguez, A., Ziviani, J., & Rodger, S. (2006). Play behaviours and play objects preferences of young children with autistic disorder in a clinical play environment. Autism, 10(1), 53–69.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Doody, K. R., & Mertz, J. (2013). Preferred play activities of children with autism spectrum disorder in naturalistic settings. North American Journal of Medicine and Science., 6(3), 128–133.Google Scholar
  22. Elkind, D. (2007). The power of play: How spontaneous, imaginative activities lead to happier, healthier children. Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press.Google Scholar
  23. Fromberg, D. P., & Bergen, D. (Eds.). (2015). Play from birth to twelve: Contexts perspectives, and meanings (3rd Ed.), New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Gotham, K., Pickles, A., & Lord, C. (2009). Standardizing ADOS scores for a measure of severity in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 693–705.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Hauck, M., Fein, D., Waterhouse, L., & Feinstein, C. (1995). Social initiations by autistic children to adults and other children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 25(6), 579–595.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hobson, J. A., Hobson, P., Malik, S., Kyratso, B., & Calo, S. (2013). The relation between social engagement and pretend play in autism. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 31, 114–127.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Hobson, R. P., Lee, A., & Hobson, J. A. (2009). Qualities of symbolic play among children with autism: A social-developmental perspective. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(1), 12–22.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Howes, C., & Matheson, C. (1992). Sequences in the development of competent play with peers: Social and social pretend play. Developmental Psychology, 28, 961–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Iovannone, R., Dunlop, G., Huber, H., & Kincaid, D. (2003). Effective educational practices for students with ASD. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18(3), 150–165.Google Scholar
  30. Jarrold, C. (2003). A review of research into pretend play in autism. Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, 7(4), 379–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jarrold, C., Boucher, J., & Smith, P. (1996). Generativity deficits in pretend play in autism. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 14, 275–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jarrold, C., & Conn, C. (2011). The development of pretend play in autism. In A. Pellegrini (Ed.), Oxford handbook of the development of play (pp. 308–321). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Jordan, R. (2003). Social play and autistic spectrum disorders. Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, 7(4), 347–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Julius, H., Wolfberg, P. J. Jahnke, I., & Neufeld, D. (2012). Integrated play and drama groups for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum: Final report. Alexander von Humboldt TransCoop Research Project, University of Rostock, Germany with San Francisco State University, USA.Google Scholar
  35. Kasari, C., Roheram-Fuller, E., Locke, J., & Gulsrud, A. (2012). Making the connection: Randomized controlled trial of social skills at school for children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53(4), 431–439.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Lantz, J. F., Nelson, J. M., & Loftin, R. L. (2004). Guiding children with autism in play: Applying the integrated play group model in school settings. Exceptional Children, 37(2), 8–14.Google Scholar
  37. Leslie, A. M. (1987). Pretence and representation: The origins of “theory of mind”. Psychological Review, 94, 412–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lewis, V., & Boucher, J. (1988). Spontaneous instructed and elicited play in relatively able autistic children. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 6(4), 325–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Libby, S., Powell, S., Messer, D., & Jordan, R. (1998). Spontaneous play in children with autism: A reappraisal. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28, 487–497.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Lord, C., Rutter, M., Dilavore, P., & Risi, S. (1999). Manual: Autism diagnostic observation schedule. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.Google Scholar
  41. Lowe, M., & Costello, A. J. (1976). Manual for the symbolic play test. Windsor: National Foundation for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  42. MacKinnon, D. P., & Dwyer, J. H. (1993). Estimating mediated effects in prevention studies. Evaluation Review, 17, 144–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Manning, M. M., & Wainwright, L. D. (2010). The role of high level play as a predictor of social functioning in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(5), 523–533.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. McCune-Nicolich, L. A. (1981). Toward symbolic functioning: Structure of early pretend games and potential parallels with language. Child Development, 52, 785–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McGraw, K. O., & Wong, S. P. (1996). Forming inferences about some intraclass correlation coefficients. Psychological Methods, 1(1), 30–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. National Autism Center. (2009). Addressing the need for evidence-based practice guidelines for autism spectrum disorders. National Autism Center’s National Standards Project: Findings and Conclusions.Google Scholar
  47. National Research Council. (2001). Committee on educational interventions for children with autism, Division of behavioral and social sciences and education. Educating children with autism. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  48. O’Connor, T. (1999). Teacher perspectives of facilitated play in Integrated Play Groups. Unpublished Master Thesis, San Francisco State University, CA.Google Scholar
  49. Ochs, E., Kremer-Sadlik, T., Sirota, K. G., & Solomon, O. (2004). Autism and the social world: an anthropological perspective. Discourse Studies, 6(2), 147–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Parten, M. B. (1932). Social participation among preschool children. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 27, 243–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Reichow, B., & Volkmar, F. R. (2010). Social skills interventions for individuals with autism: Evaluation for evidence-based practices within a best evidence synthesis framework. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(2), 149–166.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Richard, V., & Goupil, G. (2005). Application des groups de jeux integers aupres d’eleves ayant un trouble envahissant du development (Implementation of integrated play groups with PDD students). Revue Quebecoise de Psychologie, 26(3), 79–103.Google Scholar
  53. Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Sigman, M., & Ruskin, E. (1999). Continuity and change in the social competence of children with autism, Down syndrome, and developmental delays. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 64, 1–114.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Sigman, M., Spence, S. J., & Wang, A. T. (2006). Autism from developmental and neuropsychological perspectives. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2, 327–355.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equation models. Sociological Methodology, 13, 290–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stanley, G. C., & Konstantareas, M. M. (2006). Symbolic play in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(7), 1215–1223.Google Scholar
  58. Toth, K., Munson, J., Meltzoff, A. N., & Dawson, G. (2006). Early predictors of communication development in young children with autism spectrum disorder: Joint attention, imitation and toy play. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 993–1005.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Ungerer, J. A., & Sigman, M. (1981). Symbolic play and language comprehension in autistic children. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 20, 318–337.Google Scholar
  60. Volkmar, F. R. (1987). Social development. In D. J. Cohen, A. M. Donnellan, & R. Paul (Eds.), Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorders. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  61. Vygotsky, L. S. (1967). Play and its role in the mental development of the child. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 5(3), 6–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Westby, C. E. (2000). A scale for assessing development of children’s play. In K. Gitlin-Weiner, A. Sandgrund, & C. E. Schaefer (Eds.), Play diagnosis and assessment (2nd ed., pp. 131–161). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  64. Williams, E. (2003). A comparative review of early forms of object-directed play and parent-infants play in typical infants and young children with autism. Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, 7(4), 361–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Williams, E., Reddy, V., & Costall, A. (2001). Taking a closer look at functional play in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31(1), 67–77.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Wing, L., & Gould, J. (1979). Severe impairments of social interaction and associated abnormalities in children: Epidemiology and classification. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 9(1), 11–29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Wolfberg, P. J. (1994). Case illustrations of emerging social relations and symbolic activity in children with autism through supported peer play. Doctoral dissertation, University of California at Berkley with San Francisco State University. Dissertation Abstracts International, 9505068.Google Scholar
  68. Wolfberg, P. J. (2003). Peer play and the autism spectrum: The art of guiding children’s socialization and imagination (integrated play groups field manual). Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  69. Wolfberg, P. J. (2009). Play and imagination in children with autism (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  70. Wolfberg, P. J., Bottema-Beutel, K., & DeWitt, M. (2012). Integrated play groups: Including children with autism in social and imaginary play with typical peers. American Journal of Play, 5(1), 55–80.Google Scholar
  71. Wolfberg, P. J., & Buron, K. (2014). Perspectives on evidence based practice and autism spectrum disorder: Tenets of competent, humanistic and meaningful support. In K. D. Buron & P. J. Wolfberg (Eds.), Learners on the autism spectrum: Preparing highly qualified educators (2nd ed.). Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC.Google Scholar
  72. Wolfberg, P. J., McCracken, H., & Tuchel, T. (2014). Fostering play, imagination and friendships with peers: Creating a culture of social inclusion. In K. D. Buron & P. J. Wolfberg (Eds.), Learners on the autism spectrum: Preparing highly qualified educators and related practitioners (2nd ed.). Shawnee Mission KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  73. Wolfberg, P. J., & Schuler, A. L. (1992). Integrated play groups project: Final evaluation report (Contract#HO86D90016). Washington, DC: Department of Education, OSERS.Google Scholar
  74. Wolfberg, P. J., & Schuler, A. L. (1993). Integrated play groups: A model for promoting the social and cognitive dimensions of play. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 23(3), 1–23.Google Scholar
  75. Wolfberg, P. J., & Schuler, A. L. (2006). Promoting social reciprocity and symbolic representation in children with autism spectrum disorders: Designing quality peer play interventions. In: T. Charman, & W. Stone (Eds.), Social and communication development in autism spectrum disorders: Early identification, diagnosis, and intervention (pp. 180–218). New York: Guilford Publications.Google Scholar
  76. Wolfberg, P. J., Zercher, C., Lieber, J., Capell, K., Matiaas, S. G., Hanson, M., et al. (1999). Can I play with you? Peer culture in inclusive preschool programs. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 24, 69–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wong, C., Odom, S. L., Hume, K. Cox, A. W., Fettig, A., Kucharczyk, S., & Schultz, T. R. (2013). Evidence-based practices for children, youth, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, Autism Evidence-Based Practice Review Group.Google Scholar
  78. Yang, T., Wolfberg, P. J., Wu, S., & Hwu, P. (2003). Supporting children on the autism spectrum in peer play at home and school: Piloting the integrated play groups model in Taiwan. Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, 7(4), 437–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Zercher, C., Hunt, P., Schuler, A. L., & Webster, J. (2001). Increasing joint attention, play and language through peer supported play. Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practices, 5, 374–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela Wolfberg
    • 1
  • Mila DeWitt
    • 2
  • Gregory S. Young
    • 3
  • Thanh Nguyen
    • 4
  1. 1.Autism Spectrum Studies, Department of Special Education and Communication DisordersSan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Trumpet Behavioral HealthPleasantonUSA
  3. 3.MIND Institute, UC Davis Medical CenterUniversity of CaliforniaSacramentoUSA
  4. 4.Clinical Psychology (PhD) ProgramUniversity of MassachusettsBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations