Learning Life Skills Through Play Intervention

Burlington County Special Services School District educators Larisa Gambale, Agnes Szymula, Debbie Jackson, Sarah Konrad, Tiffany Smith, Kathleen Nizio, Sandra Schuck, Elise Newman Engber, Helene Lodge, Kim Niehaus, Deanna Sears, Diana Stepp, Katrina Neeld, Joyce Kitching, and Jennifer Nizio will collaborate on the project which was awarded a $7,982 grant from the Hipp Foundation.

The program addresses the deficit skill areas of students with autism by providing opportunities to play age appropriate games with classmates, students from other classes and campuses, family members, and possibly students from regular education classes.

Appropriate and contemporary games are purchased and adapted, if necessary, to meet the students’ skill levels, age, and interest. Games include video, tabletop, and gross motor games for students from ages three to 21. The Nintendo Wii video game is incorporated as a means of preparing students to play in the community through use of the bowling, tennis, and golf software. A trip to a nearby bowling center gives students an opportunity to generalize the bowling skills learned on the Wii.

Parents and family members are invited to participate with the students during scheduled group time. Surveys are sent to parents to ascertain if there is interest in attending a game fest after school hours to foster a more meaningful family relationship for those family members struggling to find a way of interacting with their autistic child.

While participating in the games, teachers videotape the play. Teachers also record student behaviors and record their observations on data collection sheets. The data is compiled and reviewed using statistics software.

A pre- and post-test assessment is given to the students to measure changes that have taken place. Students are retested at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. An increase of five points will be considered as significant for this target population.

For further information, contact:

Larisa Gambale
School - (609) 261-5600