Feasibility of a measurement for the development of play in pre-school children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder
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Abstract Introduction: Play is very important during the development of a child. Next to motor skills, social interaction, communication and imagination are important contributors to the development of play. These areas correspond with deficits typically experienced by children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The development of play can be described by different stages of play. There is no golden standard to measure development of play. Problem statement: In an Academic Hospital in the Netherlands, a nursing intervention to promote interaction between parents and pre-school children with ASD is being examined. One of the outcomes is development of play. Assessment of play is a part of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). The ADOS seems to lack sensitivity to measure change. Researchers need a measurement, that is more sensitive to changes in play behavior and examines more specific different stages of play, in order to capture development of play. The Structured Play Assessment (SPA) is the only suitable measurement. Research question: What is the feasibility of the SPA, in measuring the development of play, in pre-school children with ASD Methods: A pilot was conducted, using a quantitative, cross-sectional design. The SPA, added with extra variables, was used to assess video’s of free play (n=43).The videos were taken, before the nursing intervention was provided, at the child’s home. The outcomes were compared to the ADOS-play score with non parametric tests. Results & Discussion: The SPA and the ADOS are compatible and give equal results; however, the SPA is more sensitive for measuring changes in play behaviour. Conclusion and recommendations: The SPA is feasible to measure development of play, because it can detect even small changes in play and play behavior. Further research for the use of the SPA in general is needed.