The purpose of my study was to explore and describe the applicability of fairy tale-based sociodramatic play in developing social skills among high-functioning children with autism. My conceptual framework was based on existing theory relating to high-functioning children with autism, the development of social skills, sociodramatic play and fairy tales,. I followed a qualitative research approach, guided by an interpretivist epistemology. I employed an instrumental case study design and conveniently selected a school that specialises in the accommodation of learners with autism. I purposefully selected three high-functioning children at the school as primary research participants, and their parents/caregivers as well as one educator from the foundation phase class at the school, as my secondary research participants. I developed and implemented a fairy tale-based sociodramatic play intervention, conducted face-to-face interviews and assessments of levels of social functioning, and utilised observationas- context-of-interaction as data collection methods. I relied upon audio-visual methods and a reflective journal as methods of data documentation. Three main themes emerged as a result of the inductive data analysis and interpretation that I completed. Firstly, I found that the primary participants displayed an improved tendency to ask for help and express their feelings after they had received fairy tale-based sociodramatic play intervention. Secondly, I found that certain additional changes in social experience and behaviour had occurred during the course of the research process, such as an apparent improvement in turn-taking, problem-solving and perspective-taking abilities, and an increased involvement in peer relationships and peer support. Despite the apparent changes in the participants’ abilities to ask for help and express their feelings, a few areas of no change also emerged. No change was observed in the primary participants’ tendency to not seek help from peers, as well as their tendency to rely on their body language, rather than on verbalisation, to ask for help and express feelings. Based on the findings, fairy tale-based sociodramatic play can therefore be regarded as a valuable tool for the development of the social skills of asking for help and expression of feelings among high-functioning children with autism.
Dissertation (MEd (Educational Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2008.