Title

An analysis of symbolic play in normal, high functioning autistic, and developmentally language disordered children

Date of Completion

January 1996

Keywords

Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

A behavior coding scheme was developed to assess symbolic play performance, particularly the developmental trends of decentration, decontextualization, and integration, in normal, high functioning autistic, and developmentally language disordered children.^ Interrater reliability for this measure was evaluated and results indicate that this coding scheme is reliable for coding all three developmental trends when rating the most typical play exhibited by the child, and for coding decontextualization and integration when averaging play scores.^ Analyses comparing the symbolic play performance of normal, high functioning autistic, and developmentally language disordered children reveal that the autistic children have impaired decontextualization abilities. The notion of an underlying symbolic system for play and language is explored, and the importance of using a qualitative approach to play analysis is explained. Finally, assessment and treatment implications using this measure are suggested. ^