Student Number: 08035504
Word Count: 1767
An Essay Critically Exploring How Practitioners, within an Educational Setting, Provide Inclusive and Accessible Play Experiences for Children Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
The development of the Social Model of Disability has resulted in Inclusion becoming a prominent principle of Government policy. Particular attention has been placed on inclusivity within play for children with disabilities. This is because play has been highlighted as a significant vehicle for development with many benefits for both a-typical and disabled children. It can be argued however that hidden disabilities, which are not easily recognised, do not attract the same attention from society as more physical disabilities. An example of this is Asperger’s Syndrome, which effects the way children behave, think and socialise. Research has highlighted clear differences between how children who have AS and atypical children play so practitioners should arguably ensure play experiences and activities are inclusive for Asperger’s syndrome. This essay aims to critically explore and examine play, and how practitioners of play ensure it is inclusive and accessible for children who have AS. Particular focus will be placed on educational practitioners, such as teachers, who use play as a vehicle for learning. This is because children with Asperger’s are considerably more likely to attend main stream schools where the early years curriculum is commonly play-based. Autism is a neurological disorder, commonly diagnosed within the first three years of life and has frequently been conceptualized as a mental illness. Literature has drew upon a variety of behaviours that are evident within Autism including; A rigidity and inflexibility of thought processes, language and mannerisms, obsessional and ritualistic behaviour, limited imaginative and initiative play, oversensitive responses to particular environmental stimuli and a lack of Theory of Mind. Autism cannot be viewed as a single illness however, and should instead, be perceived as a complex, wide spectrum disorder, which hosts a multitude of varied yet inter-related disorders where each individual’s manifestation of the condition and the level of disability significantly varies across the spectrum. One common disorder categorised under the Autism Spectrum is Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), which approximately affects one child in every 100 children (Attwood 2006). AS is frequently conceptualised as a milder form of autism, Attwood (2006) suggests that children who have been diagnosed with AS are intellectually and linguistically more able than children diagnosed with other autistic disorders, and do not exhibit the accompanying learning disabilities associated with Autism. Despite this, the qualitative impairment, some of the characteristics which define the Autistic Spectrum are highly evident within AS. Children will commonly display obsessive behaviour, literal thinking and an inability to emphasize with others or understand that people have minds and mental states. Thus, thinking and perceiving the world differently from others. There is a vast amount of academic literature which values play as a significant vehicle for development. Stagnitti (2004) highlighted that play develops social, intellectual, emotional and physical skills. It is also suggested that play is as fundamental to human happiness and wellbeing as love and work (Schaefer, 1993). It has been evidenced throughout literature however, that for children diagnosed with AS, play may not emerge as a natural instinct because the initial impulse and skills needed for play are impaired (Jordan, 2003). Consequently, understanding abstract concepts play behaviours can be challenging for these individuals and arguably, these children may not receive the benefits or the same outcomes as atypical children.