Play and children with autism: insights from research and implications for practice

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes


Children with autism approach play in a different way to that of their non-autistic peers as evidenced by studies from infancy to childhood. Cognitive theories have been mainly used as a framework to explain play in autism and socio-emotional theories have been so far neglected. This chapter argues the case that socio-emotional theories offer a new framework for explaining the different ways children with autism approach play and the implications that this might have for enhancing their play. This approach is of particular relevance to enhancing play in children with autism and additional intellectual disabilities, and a number of relevant current interventions positioned in the socio-emotional framework of understanding childhood and autism are reviewed to identify implications for practice mainly for school settings.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Play
Subtitle of host publicationDevelopmental and Disciplinary Perspectives
EditorsPeter Smith, Jaipaul Lalla Roopnarine
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Oct 2018

Publication series

NameCambridge Handbooks in Psychology


  • autism, intellectual disabilities, children, play, symbolic play, social interaction, parents, teachers, play interventions, schools