A great paper to see published! Thank you to Heather Kuhaneck,  Susan Spitzer and Stefanie Bodison. This systematic review provides a thorough exploration of studies, and most importantly contemporary studies, which support the role of occupational therapy for children with Autism.

“…occupational therapists should feel most confident including imitation of the child and modeling for the child, as they currently have the strongest evidence. Other strategies have emerging support such as the modification of materials, environment, and interaction style.”

The paper includes a review of literature related to play and Autism and the reasons play is essential to developing skills needed for participation in everyday life. The paper highlights the importance of modeling by adults and imitation by children. 

“The strongest interventions in this review used imitation of the child and modeling for the child and combined adult-structured and child-directed approaches.”

Abstract: Play in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is often atypical, yet consensus regarding effective occupational therapy strategies for improving play is not established. To examine the efficacy of strategies used in occupational therapy to improve play in ASD, authors completed a systematic review of papers from January 1980 through January 2019. Search terms included autism, Asperger’s, ASD, autistic in combination with play, playfulness, pretend, imagination, praxis, creativity, and generativity. Twenty papers met inclusion criteria and were reviewed. Reviewed interventions included parent education, modified play materials or environments, imitation of the child, and modeling by an adult, a peer, or video. Moderate to strong support exists for the specific strategies of imitation of the child and modeling for the child, with lesser or mixed support for other strategies. Certain strategies commonly used in occupational therapy may be effective in improving the occupation of play in ASD.