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An Evaluation of the Potential Impact of Play Therapy on Social Interaction Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

By January 1, 2015No Comments

This study sought to explore what changes, if any, occurred for three children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who received six sessions of individual nondirective play therapy, a child-centred approach based on Axline’s (1974) principles of play therapy.

The study focused on the areas of social interaction and sought to answer the
research questions:

1) Can a series of play therapy sessions have an impact on the social
interaction skills of children with ASD?
2) Are there any additional changes in behaviour for children with ASD as a
result of having play therapy?

Data was gathered from play therapy session notes and interviews conducted with
parents which were later transcribed and analysed. Quantitative measures in the
form of Goal Based Outcomes, Strength and Difficulties Questionnaires and the
Evaluation of Social Interaction were utilised to explore changes in social interaction skills following a series of play therapy sessions. The results revealed that two out of the three children demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in their social interaction skills. In addition, findings emerged that have implications for future practice, in particular the role of the play therapist in supporting the emotional needs of parents or carers of children with a diagnosis of ASD. The study also highlights the potential benefits of using standardised measures in play therapy practice.