ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)
|Thursday, July 13, 2006: 3:15 PM-4:30 PM|
|#2277- It’s Not Just for Fun Anymore: Innovations in Play and Leisure Skill Development|
|This workshop will address the play and leisure skill needs of children and adolescents with ASD. Its focus will be on the development of play and leisure skills that are tailored to the contours of the individual’s particular constellation of symptoms, functioning level, and social-cognitive ability. A social participation play scale will be used as the key ingredient in a systematic formula for designing play / leisure skill interventions that fit the individual’s interaction style and social-cognitive ability level.|
|Presenters:|| - Diane Twachtman-Cullen, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is editor-in-chief of Autism Spectrum Quarterly, and executive director of ADDCON Center, LLC based in Higganum, CT. She is the author of several articles and chapters, as well as the following four books: A Passion to Believe; Trevor Trevor; How to be a Para Pro; and How Well Does Your IEP Measure Up? Dr. Twachtman-Cullen is co-chair of the Panel of Professional Advisors of the Autism Society of America, and serves on several other advisory boards, as well. She provides seminars on ASD internationally. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Svany Svavars Kristjansson is originally from Iceland, but currently lives in Arizona. She has been a special education teacher and is also a speech-language pathologist. She served as an intern with Division TEACCH, and is now an independent trainer of its structured teaching model (STM), having started several STM classrooms for students with autism in Iceland and Arizona. Svany is also an autism trainer for the Arizona State Department of Education. She has lectured on autism in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, France, North Carolina, Kansas, and Arizona. Svany currently serves as an independent consultant for individuals with ASD.
- Jennifer Twachtman-Reilly, M.S., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist who provides consultation / training for individuals with ASD through the ADDCON Center, LLC. She also provides direct services at Connecticut College Children's Program and serves as the associate editor of Autism Spectrum Quarterly, where she is the author of a column. She was recently named to the national advisory board of the Specialminds Foundation, and she is on the team of "Resident Experts" at www.autismtoday.com. The co-author of a book, and author of a chapter, she has presented many workshops at national, state, and regional conferences throughout the United States.
The child at play is a universal phenomenon that has existed throughout the ages. Indeed, play is an integral part of the childhood experience. According to Lowenfeld (1939),
It is perfectly clear that children have played since the beginning of time and archaeological diggings show us that every civilization has provided toys for their use . . . . The loving care expended upon these toys in all human groups shows that grown-up human beings since the beginning of historical times have understood that the way to make contact with a child and to understand his way of thought is to play with him. (p. 66)
The importance of play, however, has not always been recognized. In the 1800s play was generally considered a manifestation of the exuberant energy of youth (Spencer, as cited in Garvey, 1977). With the dawn of the 20th century, however, play began to take on new meaning, both literally and figuratively. Specifically, people began to view play as a meaningful behavior°Xone that not only has the power to reveal valuable information about the inner life of the child, but also one that is intimately connected to cognition, language, and social development. Frost (1992) underscored the importance of play by stating that "Play is the chief vehicle for the development of imagination and intelligence, language, social skills, and perceptual-motor abilities in infants and young children" (p. 48). That's a pretty impressive list of competencies for something as unassuming as "child's play"!
The Nature of Play
Play is one of those constructs that is easier to recognize than it is to define. In other words, we know what play is when we see it. The opposite is also true. We know what is not play when we see it. According to Random House Webster's College Dictionary, the word play°Xwhether used as a noun or a verb°Xhas over 60 different meanings, many of which apply to children's play. All of the definitions of play found in the dictionary are necessarily sterile, in the sense that they do not speak to the importance of play in the lives of children, as Frost did so eloquently above.
One way to conceptualize play that is particularly illuminating regarding the problems that individuals with ASD have with play, is to list its defining characteristics. According to Garvey (1977), play is something that is: valued by the player; self-motivated; self-determined; and engaging (p. 5). It also has "certain systematic relations to what is not play" (Garvey, 1977, p. 5). Others have expanded upon Garvey's defining characteristics of play by emphasizing the positive affect associated with it; its nonliteral (i.e., pretend versus real) aspects; and the flexibility that is inherent in many play interactions (Krasnor & Pepler, 1980; Smith & Vollstedt, 1985). Moreover, all play behavior experts underscore the importance of intrinsic motivation in play.
Play and Children with ASD
At the risk of stating the obvious, play does not come easy to children with ASD. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that the skills and competencies required in play (intrinsic motivation, nonliterality, flexibility, etc.) run headlong into the characteristics and symptomatology associated with ASD. That play does not come easy to, or develop naturally in children with ASD, is not to say that it should not or cannot be taught.
The report of the Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism spoke to the importance of play by stating that, "play and manipulation of toys (e.g., matching, stacking of blocks) are primary methods of learning and relating to other children" (Lord & McGee, editors, Educating Children with Autism, 2001, p. 42). Later, the report characterized play as "the glue that holds together peer interactions in early childhood" (p. 75). Clearly, play is a consummately important part of learning, social relatedness, and interactive communication.
The question that remains is: Can play skills be taught to individuals with ASD? Research across several different intervention approaches (Dawson & Galpert, 1990; Rogers, 2000; Rogers & Lewis, 1989) suggests that children with ASD can be taught functional and object play, as well as interactive and symbolic play. The position of the Committee on Educational Interventions for Children with Autism has this to say: "Given the importance of symbolic play for normal development . . . this is an important target of early education for children with autism (Lord & McGee, editors, Educating Children with Autism, 2001, p. 71). In fact, Educating Children with Autism lists play skills as one of six priority interventions for children on the spectrum: "The teaching of play skills should focus on play with peers, with additional instruction in appropriate use of toys and other materials" (p. 221).
Description of Workshop
This workshop will address the play and leisure skill needs of children and adolescents with ASD. Its focus will be on the development of play and leisure skills that are tailored to the contours of the individual's particular constellation of symptoms, functioning level, and social-cognitive ability. The important role of social-pragmatic communication will be discussed as it relates to interactional ability and the use of the pragmatic functions of communication to participate in, and regulate specific play and leisure activities. Using a social participation play scale as a "yardstick" to determine the type of play / leisure activity appropriate to the individual with ASD, the presenters will provide a systematic formula for designing play / leisure skill interventions that fit the individual's interaction style and social-cognitive ability level.
Examples of ways to systematically expand the use of actions on specific objects / toys, as well as ways to expand play to different objects / toys will be presented. In addition, workshop participants will be provided with examples of play / leisure activities that correspond to each of the social participation categories used to determine the appropriate play stage of the individual. They will also learn how to design structured play stations for students with ASD. Using a "goodness of the fit" standard, all information presented will take into account the defining characteristics of play as they relate to the learning style and characteristics of individuals with ASD.
„« Workshop participants will be able to state the ways in which the pragmatic functions of communication may be used to gain access to and regulate play and leisure activities.
„« Workshop participants will be able to list the defining characteristics of play, as well as their relationship to other social-cognitive competencies.
„« Workshop participants will be able to use an instrument to determine the individual's play stage level.
„« Workshop participants will be able to design play and leisure skill interventions / stations that fit the individual's interaction style and social-cognitive level.
See more of The ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)