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Increasing Engagement for Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Way to Play: A Preliminary Investigation of the Adult Training Program

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 September 2021

Dervla Beaumont*
New Zealand Ministry of Education
Tanya Blakey
Autism New Zealand
Neil Stuart
Autism New Zealand
Julia Woodward
New Zealand Ministry of Education
*Corresponding author. Email:


Way to Play is an approach that supports adults to promote the engagement of young children with autism spectrum disorder through play. The Ministry of Education in New Zealand has collaborated with Autism New Zealand to ensure the sustainable delivery of Way to Play within Auckland’s early learning services by training early intervention staff to both use Way to Play and to coach and support other adults in its use. Key strategies that form the foundation of Way to Play are described, and an outline of the evidence base for these strategies is provided. Preliminary data demonstrate the effectiveness of the training approach and the perceived impact for young children with autism and their parents/carers and teachers. Case examples illustrate how Way to Play is used across home and educational settings to successfully support the engagement and inclusion of young children with autism. Suggestions are made for a comprehensive investigation of program effectiveness.

Special Education Perspectives
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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This manuscript was accepted under the Editorship of Michael Arthur-Kelly.


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