EPPI-MapperMapping Outputs 2
Play-based interventions to support social and communication development in autistic children aged 2-8 years: A scoping review

Jenny L. Gibson, Emma Pritchard, Carmen de Lemos

Play & Communication Lab, Play in Education Development and Learning Research Centre,
Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.


Gibson, J. L., Pritchard, E., & de Lemos, C. (2021). Play-based interventions to support social and communication development in autistic children aged 2–8 years: A scoping review. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/23969415211015840#

These web pages allow you to explore our review of play-based interventions that have been used with autistic children.

The links below will take you to interactive "evidence gap maps" (EGMs) where you can investigate the ways that different intervention studies have used play and which outcomes they target.


Investigate interventions by the outcomes that they target and by age group

These maps show you the different types of intervention, which outcomes they target and which age groups they cover.

An overview of the different intervention types can be explored using the “Intervention type” map.

Many play-based approaches mix together different intervention types, you can take a closer look at these using the "Mixed intervention type" map.

Feedback based interventions were very common, and had different sub-types that you can explore by clicking "Feedback-based interventions".


Different aspects of play in an intervention

Our research found that play-based interventions use play in different ways. In some interventions play is considered the key to improving support and outcomes, while in others play is a context in which another skill is taught or it is a component of a larger approach. We call this the ‘role of play’.

We also looked at whether interventions were more child-led, more adult-directed or somewhere between the two. You can explore both of these aspects of play interventions, and how they relate to the outcomes targeted by exploring the “Role of play” and “Level of child-control” maps.


Different study designs

Study design is an important consideration in research. You can use this link to find out how different research designs, such as randomised controlled trials, have been used with the different intervention types.



For the EGMs, some studies may be represented more than once as they were coded across multiple categories for the following variables:

  • Outcomes targeted
  • Age
  • Intervention type
  • Role of play (where more than one intervention within a study is play-based)

Please see the published article’s supplemental materials for definitions of the Mixed and Feedback-based intervention types.


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