A strengths-based approach to play in children with autism


  • Rachel L. Smith, MS
  • Marieke Van Puymbroeck, PhD, CTRS




play, autism, autism spectrum disorders, positive psychology, leisure behavior, strength-based approach, recreational therapy


Children with autism often experience difficulties with play. The focus of previous research has described how the play of children with autism is deviant from the play of typically developing peers. There has been little attention paid to understanding why children with autism play the way they do, and the innate strengths that exist within the play experience of children with autism. The purpose of this theoretical piece is to provide a framework for exploring the play of children with autism from a strengths-based recovery model perspective. Implications for recreational therapists and other professionals are discussed, and considerations for future research directions are suggested.

Author Biographies

Rachel L. Smith, MS

Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Marieke Van Puymbroeck, PhD, CTRS

Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.


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How to Cite

Smith, MS, R. L., & Van Puymbroeck, PhD, CTRS, M. (2011). A strengths-based approach to play in children with autism. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 10(1), 17–24. https://doi.org/10.5055/ajrt.2011.0003




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