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References & Acknowledgments

It is very hard to give credit to everyone who should get credit when you have been working in a field for twenty years. I have read and used ideas from so many people! I see a good game demonstrated by a professional or a parent and then I start using it and showing other people how to use it. I am like a bee collecting pollen and honey. I want to provide references for specific ideas but I can't always do this.

To make this even more complicated, I combine ideas and alter them, as all therapist do, but it makes it impossible for me to say I use this approach or that. Still, I want to acknowledge several of the brightest lights in my professional journey because their light is certainly reflected in Autism Games.

Sheila Merzer

My first and continued most important mentor in the field of autism is Sheila Merzer M.A., Licensed Psychologist. From this gifted woman I learned to love children with autism. I learned to see the logic and intent in the behavior of children with autism and to organize my own behavior so that children with autism could see me, understand me, and enjoy being with me. Many of my all-time favorite games came from Sheila--games such as "Pop with letters" games, "Bye Bye Emotions" games, "Come to me", and games where we use dolls to represent the family members of a child. I am gradually getting clips of these great Sheila Games posted on this web site and I feel privileged to share a little of her enormous gift with others. Pictured here, Sheila and I are in a small town in Bosnia. Our joint adventures in autism take us to some interesting places.

The first article on autism that I ever read was by Dr. Barry Prizant and I have followed his work and the work of his impressive colleagues over many years. That first article was about echolalia and I found it fascinating even though I did not know anything about autism. As I work with graduate students, I find myself saying "and Barry Prizant says..." over and over. As I work with parents, I find myself explaining things about autism and communication with the examples he used in workshops or in print. Much of the way that I organize my practice and approach communication intervention is based on his work and the work of his collaborating colleagues who have recently published a magnificent set of manuals called SCERTS. Since I had already incorporated so much of his approach to autism before this book came out, the part that I found most helpful about SCERTS was that I could show others his ideas without taking out my coffee stained, wrinkled handouts. I now the SCERTS system to track progress in all my young clients and I teach parents strategies one-by-one right out of a section of this manual called Transitional Supports. My goal on this site is to have at least one game for every learning objective listed in SCERTS. For anyone who is using SCERTS, the Autism Games organization of games into three difficulty levels is based directly on the SCERTS skill tracking system of social partners, language partners, and conversational partners.

RDI and Dr. Steven GutsteinFour days of training, in 2001 with Dr. Steven Gutstein and his wife, Dr. Rachelle Sheely had a very big impact on my professional work and this is evident on this website. I continued to study their approach, Relationship Development Intervention, during the years when they had an extensive informational section on their website and I systematically read all the books they recommended (many of which are listed on this page because I loved these books). I tend to focus on communication in my work, so the versions of RDI games you see on this site are often modified somewhat with the learning objective being to teach some communication skill. Indeed, the idea of teaching parents specific games to play with their child was something I started after my RDI training. I encouraged parents to play with their child but I taught strategies (the Parent Tips kind of information) not specific games. I credit RDI with many of the games on this site that teach non-verbal communication (e.g. nodding head, shaking head, shrugging, pointing) although I have added to this repertoire recently with acting and theater games. Also, in games where we "move across space" walking and running and falling together - these are all games that I think of as RDI games. I highly recommend his books and video (CD) to families who have a child with ASD and to professionals trying to understand ASD better.

Floortime and Dr. Stanley GreenspanDr. Greenspan is an amazingly insightful luminary in the field of autism and child development. I read the work of Dr. Stanley Greenspan often to help me see children more clearly. I read about DIR Floortime intervention over and over in the extensive and wonderful information that they post online, and in several of his books which are actually dogeared. I credit Dr. Greenspan for many of the ways that I teach pretend play skills to children. I particularly love his writing about supporting children in the use of the imagination as a means for learning, emotional regulation, and problem solving. I use ideas from Dr. Greenspan daily. The complexity of Dr. Greenspan's thinking makes it difficult for me to explain all the ways he has influenced my work, but I feel his influence is in the way I create games and think about the development of children. My vision of great guided pretend play is entirely based on Dr. Greenspan's work.

Jonneke KoomenFinally, a warm and heartfelt acknowledgment of Jonneke Koomen, who knew how to do a proper website and told me gently and gradually how to make this site better and better. When this involved the learning of html code, she just did it herself. She edited my run on sentences and in the process managed to give a kind of British wording to the writing here and there--so if you see that, it is Jonneke's editing. My dear Jonneke, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!


  • DIR-Floortime is the most well-known of the play based interventions. I recommend to most families that I work with that they study Floortime in order to understand children with special educational and parenting needs, particularly in the areas of emotional development and cognitive development.
  • Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) is a relative newcomer on the intervention method's block but the developers of RDI have reorganize intervention ideas from many different autism intervention programs and added some wonderful original ideas of their own.
  • Autism Papers by Susan Stokes: For great, practical information about visual supports and more
  • SCERTS is a very well researched intervention system that was developed with a strong emphasis on communication and emotional regulation. I use the SCERTS methods for organizing my treatment plans and my practice. Before I had this wonderful manual, I often felt that I was perhaps missing some important component of intervention but I feel this much less using this treatment organizational system.

Must Own Book

Balance Your Perspective

  • Virtues Cards by Virtues Project International, Inc (2002)
  • I have included this site because, in my field and in the more general field of Special Education, so much energy goes into identifying all the deficits in children who have autism. I believe that all human beings are developing virtues and that virtues are the gems of the human spirit. I use virtues cards as a counter weight to the deficit model that is central to my profession. I also use virtues cards to help parents see the capacity in their child and in themselves.


  • Super Simple Songs is a good source for music that is at the right speed, language level and complexity for many young child with ASD.

More Books That Influenced My Thinking

  • Fogel, Alan (1993). Developing Through Relationships. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Greenspan, Stanley I., M.D., and Wieder, Serena, Ph.D. (1998) The Child With Special Needs. Reading, MA: Perseus Books.
  • Gutstein, Steven E., and Sheely, Rachelle K. (2002) Relationship Development Intervention with Young Children. London, England: Athenaeum Press.
  • Gutstein, Steven E., Ph.D. (2000) Autism/Aspergers: Solving the Relationship Puzzle. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons.
  • Hobson, Peter (2004). The Cradle of Thought. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Hodgdon, Linda A., M.Ed., CCC-SLP. (1999) Solving Behavior Problems in Autism. Troy, MI: Quirk Roberts Publishing.
  • Janert, Sibylle. (2000) Reaching the Young Autistic Child. London: Free Association Books.
  • Miller, Arnold, and Eller-Miller, Eileen. (1989) From Ritual to Repertoire. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Miller, Arnold, and Kristina Chretien (2007) The Miller Method. Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Prizant, Barry M., Wetherby, A. M., Rubin, E., Laurent, A.C., and Rydell, P.J. (2006). The SCERTS® Model: A Comprehensive Educational Approach for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Volume I Assessment. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
  • Prizant, Barry M., Wetherby, A. M., Rubin, E., Laurent, A.C., and Rydell, P.J. (2006). The SCERTS® Model: A Comprehensive Educational Approach for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Volume II Program Planning & Intervention. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
    • Quill, Kathleen Ann. (1995) Teaching Children with Autism. Albany, NY: Delmar Publishers, Inc.
    • Wetherby, Amy M., and Prizant, Barry M. (2000) Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Transactional Developmental Perspective, Volume 9 in the Communication and Language Intervention Series. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
    • Wolfberg, Pamela J. (1999) Play and Imagination in Children with Autism. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Medical Disclaimer Autism Games © By Tahirih Bushey 11.12.2009