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Stephanie Woodson

EDCI 564 Special Education

Journal Article Reflection

Teaching Play Skills to Children with Autism Using Visually Structured Tasks

This article explores a strategy for teaching play skills to a child with Autism
Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The teachers in this article work together to help a First
grade student, Keith, develop play skills. When working with students with ASD, you
have to understand that they display lower levels of social interaction, as the article
mentions. It suggests, that in order to help them develop play skills, teachers have to
understand the progression of how young children learn to play.
Children with ASD also have difficulty understanding abstract concepts but,
rather, have a preference to visual stimulation. Therefore, the article suggest
materials be organized and presented in a planned, sequential, and logical way.
The goal of visual structuring strategies is to help the student master play skills and
social behavior interactions.
A five-step sequence is provided to develop and implement visually
structured tasks. Step one is to identify reinforcing play materials. During the
information-gathering phase, determine which items or item attributes most
engages the child. Step two, task analyze a play sequence. Determine how the child
might play with the items and designate specific steps the child must perform to
complete the play sequence. Third, visually structure the materials using 1) visual
organization, 2) visual clarity, and 3) visual instructions. Next, teach with
prompting. This involves teaching the child how to engage with the materials
using the least to most intrusive prompts (visual prompt, verbal prompt, hand-over-
hand, partial physical, full physical). It is important to fade these prompts as well.
This becomes apparent in the fifth step, expand and generalize. The goal is
independent and appropriate behavior. Expansion and generalization can be
accomplished by a) adding materials, b)fading the visual structure, c)modeling new
behaviors with materials, and especially d) bringing in a peer.
For some reason, I am drawn to Autism Spectrum Disorders and related
developmental disorders. My work at a private facility dedicated to these children,
had a huge impact on me. It changed my career journey. I loved this article and
understood the strategies presented. I naturally break down things to a singular
level. That works well with students with ASD because of their difficulty with
abstract concepts. Steps and conditioning strategies are great for students with ASD.
This article is a great resource for developing play skills in children with Autism
Spectrum Disorders.

Hampshire, Patricia K.; Jack Hourcade,. "Teaching Play Skills to Children with
Autism Using Visually Structured Tasks." Teaching Exceptional Children.
Council for Exceptional Children. 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014 from
HighBeam Research: