The promise of play as an intervention to develop self-regulation in children on the autism spectrum
Children typically move through the various stages of play and are able to add complexity, imagination and creativity to their thought processes and actions. However, for many children with autism spectrum disorder, the various stages of play do not necessarily develop in a chronological fashion, and in fact they often need direct intervention on how to engage in various forms of play. A paradigm shift needs to occur whereby strict and rigid behavioral approaches begin to embrace a more child-centered view that includes engaging children on the spectrum with developmentally charged interventions that incorporate play as a major tenet of their intervention programs. In order to understand the importance of developing self-regulation through play in children on the autism spectrum, it is necessary to begin with a definition of the word since it has become popularized in the literature yet often remains misunderstood, misinterpreted, or defined in different ways.