Play interventions as a means to promote social engagement in preschoolers with autism. : A 2010-2020 Systematic Literature Review

University essay from Jönköping University/Högskolan för lärande och kommunikation

Abstract: Children with ASD are characterized by impairments in socialization and communication, as well as by the presence of repetitive behaviours and limited interests. Their impairment often influences their participation in everyday ac-tivities and by extension their social engagement in playful activities with their peers is affected. Researches set play as the leading activity for a child’s development, because it is identified as the means that can deliver various mental tools and teaching strategies to preschoolers. Purpose of this systematic literature review is to identify play interven-tions that describe the procedures aiming in promoting the social engagement of preschoolers with autism. This review will also examine the people that implemented these interventions, in order to provide information and guid-ance for all professionals and educators that may need them. Search in the three databases, ERIC, CINAHL and PsychINFO was performed. Seven articles were found to meet all criteria and were divided based on the similarities on the design and the procedures that were followed. The results of the study led to three play interventions that used the ASAP and JASPER intervention programs in order to examine the social communication of children with autism leading to their social engagement. The remaining findings resulted in four different kind of interventions that use play as the context for either increasing social engagement or promoting engagement of students with ASD with their peers. These interventions include auditory, dance and video modelling interventions. The Zone of Proximal Development was used as the theoretical framework to support the ideas mentioned, since it points out the role of play in the child’s development. However, this study highlights the need for further investigation regarding the pro-motion of social engagement of preschoolers with ASD. The level of the social engagement of children with ASD are rarely investigated in the natural context of schools during their everyday peer-to-peer play interactions.

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