This study examined the differences in playfulness between girls and boys, ages 36 – 60 months, diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and their neurotypical peers. Previous literature had noted differences in playfulness between children with ASD and neurotypical children, but none differentiated the playfulness between girls and boys with ASD or did not include girls with ASD in the study. Caregivers completed an online version of the Children’s Playfulness scale. Data for 50 girls diagnosed with ASD, 45 neurotypical girls, 56 boys with ASD, and 49 neurotypical boys were analyzed using a 2 x 2 factorial ANOVA. Post hoc testing was done for differences for specific questions. The study revealed that significant differences exist between the playfulness of girls and boys with ASD, similar to the gender differences that exist between neurotypical children. Significant differences were noted in the areas of physical spontaneity, social spontaneity, cognitive spontaneity, and manifest of joy. These findings suggest that much of what is known about the play behaviors of children with ASD may not be reflective of girls with ASD. The play behaviors of children are used to help identify some of the criteria for determining the presence of ASD in children. If the play behaviors in girls differ from that of boys, girls with ASD may be misdiagnosed, diagnosed later, or not be diagnosed at all. As a result, they may not receive intervention or support that could be beneficial for optimal development. Further research is needed in this area to accurately identify and quantify the play behaviors of girls with ASD. This will enable researchers to develop a diagnostic measure for girls so that the possibility that they are misdiagnosed, diagnosed later, or not be diagnosed is minimized.
|Commitee:||Hoffman, Bobby, Pinnow, Eleni|
|School Location:||United States -- Minnesota|
|Source:||DAI-B 80/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational psychology, Developmental psychology, Psychology|
|Keywords:||Autism, Disabilities, Gender difference, Girls, Play, Playfulness|
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