Stimulating creative play in children with autism through sandplay

Lu, L., Petersen, F., Lacroix, L., & Rousseau, C. (2010)

The Arts in Psychotherapy

37(1), | 56-64

A school-based action-research intervention with children with autism spectrum disorders investigated whether sandplay could be used as a medium to stimulate creative and symbolic play. Twenty-five elementary school children in four separate special education classes within the regular school system participated in sandplay workshops once a week for 10 sessions. The intervention aimed to stimulate communication, social interaction, and symbolic play through the use of rhythm- and movement-based rituals and sandplay. Over the 10-week program, children demonstrated through sandplay increased verbal expression, engaged and sustained social interaction, and increased symbolic, spontaneous, and novel play. The study suggests that creativity-based interventions provide a complementary approach to behavior/social skills-based intervention models prevalent in schools working with children with autism spectrum disorders.