Occupational therapists value play as a significant occupation in a child’s life and use play both as a means and as an end in itself to support development. This thesis explores the nature of play in children with developmental disabilities, seeking to determine whether there are consistent patterns of play specific to different disability categories. An extensive literature review of play and disability was completed, and Cooper’s (2000) model of play is used to organize the literature findings. This study investigated differences in play behaviour in 50 children diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, Developmental Delay and Physical impairments, aged 4 to 6 years 6 months who attended educational facilities in a regional centre in South East Queensland. Quantitative and qualitative play behaviour was assessed using two measures, Revised Knox Preschool Play Scale (Knox, 2008) and the Child Initiated Pretend Play Assessment (Stagnitti, 2007) with the Australian Developmental Screening Test (Burdon, 1993) used to determine developmental age to eliminate this as a potential confounding variable when statistically analyzing the results. Cognitive, language and fine motor abilities were found to have a statistically significant impact on play ability rather than the different disability groupings. Children with Down syndrome had significantly more imitative play actions than any other disability grouping. Cooper’s (2000) model was found to be a useful tool to analyze differing play characteristics according to different disability groupings. Modifications to Cooper’s original model of play to more accurately depict play characteristics are proposed.
Field of Research
111403 Paediatrics 110321 Rehabilitation and Therapy (excl Physiotherapy)
Socio Economic Objective
920201 Allied Health Therapies (excl. Mental Health Services)
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