Developing pretend play in autistic children using the Playboxes joint play approach as part of ongoing practice

Helen Marwick, Karena Jarvie, Hilary Cowie, Lorna Johnston, Nicola Hammond-Evans, Rachael Cockayne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A repeated measures single subject design was used to examine the effectiveness of a joint play approach embedded in professional practice, in supporting pretend play for autistic children. Seven autistic children, aged 5-8 years, with a placement within a specialist educational provision, and who demonstrated restricted play, participated in weekly sessions using the Playboxes approach over a period of 3 months. Pre- and post-approach pretend play abilities were assessed using the Symbolic Play Test and the Test of Pretend Play. Every child gained increased age-equivalent scores on the Test of Pretend Play, ranging from +8 to +30 months. Pretend Play abilities can support developmental outcomes and incorporation of this approach into regular practice could be of value for autistic children.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date9 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jul 2021


  • autism
  • autistic children
  • symbolic play
  • pretend play
  • child development
  • education

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