Condition category
Mental and Behavioural Disorders
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting
Publication status
Results overdue

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Research indicates that children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) can be taught to play via appropriate intervention, and that this may also improve their social communication skills. However, research in this area is currently lacking. We are interested in exploring whether the social interactions of preschool children with social communication difficulties can be enhanced by developing their play skills.

Who can participate?
Preschool children attending a Children's Centre preschool in Hampshire can attend. Children do not need to have a diagnosis of an ASC, but do need to have a funded special educational needs place at preschool relating to their social communication difficulties.

What does the study involve?
After consent is given, a researcher visits the child at their preschool setting to conduct some assessments. Children will then be randomly selected to either receive a short individual play intervention each day for two weeks at preschool, or to continue their preschool as usual for two weeks. The intervention, called Identiplay, lasts for 10 minutes each day and will be delivered by the child’s usual key worker. Identiplay teaches play and has been used with many preschool children with social communication needs across Hampshire. After these two weeks the researcher will visit the participant at preschool again and repeat the assessments. After a further six weeks this will be repeated.

What are the possible benefits and risks of taking part?
You would be helping us to understand the links between play and social communication skills in individuals with ASCs. There are no risks involved in taking part.

Where is the study run from?
University of Southampton (UK).

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
From September 2011 to March 2012.

Who is funding the study?
University of Southampton (UK).

Who is the main contact?
Miss Chloe Allen

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Miss Chloe Allen


Contact details

University of Southampton
University Road
United Kingdom

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

Can we enhance the social communication skills of preschool children with Autism Spectrum Conditions through play?


Study hypothesis

Autism spectrum conditions (ASCs) include autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), and Asperger's disorder, and are characterised by deficits in social interaction, communication, and imagination.

Exposure to an intervention aiming to enhance play skills will result in a significant increase in play skills, social play development and the frequency of social communication behaviours.

Ethics approval

Department of Psychology Ethics Committee, University of Southampton, 08/08/2011, ref: 704

Study design

Multicentre randomised controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type

Quality of life

Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Preschool children with Autism Spectrum Conditions


Children will be matched into pairs and then randomly allocated to either the intervention or treatment as usual condition. The play intervention will take place daily at preschool with the child and their keyworker working one to one. The intervention used is known as Identiplay.

Intervention type



Drug names

Primary outcome measure

1. Preschool teacher-rated SDQ
2. Symbolic Play Test
3. 10-minute video recording of child engaged in free play with peers coded using the M-COSMIC, developmental and social level of play

Secondary outcome measures

No secondary outcome measures

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Attending a special educational needs funded place for children with social communication needs in a children's centre
2. Aged between 2 years 9 months and 5 years
3. Written parental consent

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Speech and language delay in the absence of social communication concerns
2. Major medical conditions impacting on the effects of the intervention

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

University of Southampton
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Southampton (UK)

Sponsor details

c/o Miss Chloe Allen
University of Southampton
University Road
SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

University of Southampton (UK)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype

Universities (academic only)


United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

06/12/2019: No publications found, all search options exhausted, study status unverified. 09/06/2017: No publications found in PubMed, verifying study status with principal investigator.