Eva Ortega

Major and Classification


Faculty Mentor

Kate Crowley, Ph.D.


Ostrow: Occupational Therapy

McNair Project

“Autism, play, and inclusive environments”

Project Abstract

The impact that play has on the development of a child appears simple, yet remains complex. There is limited research on how sensory stimulating activities impact the behaviors of typical developing toddlers in comparison to atypical developing toddlers. This study sought to understand how activities focusing on sensory integration during play impact responsiveness in the classroom. Play between typically developing toddlers versus atypically developing toddlers (children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder) was observed. Engagement and play can be indicative of their self-awareness, emotional regulation, and general development. The present structured observation, recruited young toddlers from Atwater Park Center. Four toddlers between the ages of 24-40 month were observed. Factors such as temperament, separation anxiety, emotional regulation, attentiveness, and active playtime were observed. Evidence validating previous research on the benefits of inclusion of atypical children with typical developing children was found. Further research may want to investigate factors such as gender, other settings, and larger sample size. This study serves as a stepping-stone for future education reforms and diagnosis, which can then lead to better treatments.