Symbolic Play of Preschoolers with Severe Communication Impairments with Autism and Other Developmental Delays: More Similarities than Differences
Children with autism are often described as having deficient play skills, particularly symbolic play. We compared the play of 35 children with autism to 38 children with other developmental delays. All children were preschool-age and produced less than 20 different words. Results indicated no significant differences across the two groups in their play. Children with autism engaged in more conventional play, that is, putting objects together according to how the toys were constructed (e.g., pieces in a puzzle, lid on a teapot). Results also indicated high correlations between play, language, and cognitive measures. Findings indicate that play relates to language and cognitive levels yet may not discriminate children with autism and children with other developmental delays early in their development.