Matthew Brodhead, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Advancements in Activity Schedule Research in Supporting Independent and Social Play Behaviors in Children with ASD

Play is the foundation upon which social skills are built. Though typically developing children learn from an early age to interact socially through play, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate characteristic deficits in social interaction and often do not engage in social play like their typically developing peers. When children with ASD engage in inappropriate, rigid, or isolated play, their peers often perceive them as odd or disrespectful. These perceptions lead to social isolation and stigmatization, and interfere with a child’s ability to build meaningful relationships with peers. Activity schedules (i.e., visual or auditory cues that serve as discriminative stimuli to engage in a sequence of activities) are one tool to enhance independent and social play behaviors. Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to summarize three recent studies that have used activity schedules to improve independent and social play behaviors in children with ASD. Results and implications for research and practice will be discussed.