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Play = LearningHow Play Motivates and Enhances Children's Cognitive and Social-Emotional Growth$
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Dorothy G. Singer, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304381

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304381.001.0001

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Play and Autism: Facilitating Symbolic Understanding

Play and Autism: Facilitating Symbolic Understanding

(p.231) 12 Play and Autism: Facilitating Symbolic Understanding
Play = Learning


Oxford University Press

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by impairments in three discrete domains: communication, social abilities, and imagination (resulting in repetitive interests and behavior). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is now considered a national epidemic and has been expanded to include autism, Asperger's syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, and the rarer Rett's syndrome and child disintegrative disorder. The primary form of treatment for autistic children is educational therapy, combined with other specific therapies as needed (for example, physical, occupational, speech and language). The most frequently implemented educational treatment with consistent proven results is behavioral therapy, in which the principles of operant conditioning are applied to teach new skills across a broad domain. One increasingly recognized and legitimate component of therapeutic interventions involves play, because play skills are staggeringly different in children with ASD than in typically developing children. This chapter discusses the link between symbolic play and symbolic language, precursors to symbolic understanding, and play-based intervention designed to enhance autistic children's social skills.

Keywords:   play, autism, children, autism spectrum disorder, symbolic language, symbolic play, symbolic understanding, social skills

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