Play and Autism

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a statement on the importance of play in the life and healthy development of children. While play is critically important, children with autism can have significant difficulties with play. Play may also have an important therapeutic role for children with autism. Addressing issues of play in autism can have an important impact on the quality of life for families of children with autism. 

We have formed a unique partnership with the Toy Design Program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City to develop and implement a curriculum on developing toys appropriate for children with autism.  This has included putting together a set of reading/reference materials for the students in the program, including the Toybox Tools online materials, developed by a collaboration between Hasbro Toys and the Autism Project.  We have worked with the students and faculty in three sessions at FIT, providing information on autism and giving feedback on the toy designs developed by this group of students.

We will continue to develop the program, and offer it to a new FIT class in the 2018-2019 academic year, and will continue to develop and refine this program with FIT in future years. In addition, we have initiated a new project that will study the development of play in children with autism. This will utilize novel data collection methods including guided parental video recording of children’s play at home. Videos will be directly uploaded to a repository for scoring and analysis.