This qualitative study offers a detailed exploration of the journey of an adolescent boy with autism. It is a retrospective single case study, which examines how the use of Non-directive plat therapy (NDPT) facilitated the processing of difficult emotional issues and the exploration of relationships for the participant.
In this study, observational case notes taken in real time during play therapy sessions along with a personal narrative by the mother of the adolescent boy that detailed her personal journey from diagnosis to intervention were examined and analysed. The study charts the many transitions experienced from diagnosis; the mother’s teaching of her son how to play and the many setbacks, trials and tribulations they experienced.
The narrative in this case study offers a unique ‘fly on the wall’ look at how the participants journey progressed through adolescence to adulthood and the ongoing use of play as a tool for working through even more complex life and emotional issues with self and others. Limitations in measuring the efficacy of NDPT when using the method of narrative in the form of a single case study (Lesniak, 2000) are acknowledged.
However, the study’s findings suggest children with autism need to and can be taught how to play. This may be done through programmes in schools or by parents, teachers and therapists.
The study’s recommendations propose the need for further research studies. These may be longitudinal and quantitative in nature into the efficacy of play interventions and specifically NDPT on children with autism.
The study concludes with a summary of valuable insights gained which may benefit future applications for play therapist practitioners working with children with autism.