Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

David Caruso


Play, particularly exploratory play, can be viewed as the arena in which a series of interactions between a child and the environment occur. However, children with developmental delays appear to be less able to fully engage in exploratory play and utilize the environmental information that such play provides (Krakow & Kopp, 1983). There is also preliminary evidence that caregivers can be trained to use behaviors that facilitate exploratory play when engaged with their children (Belsky, Goode, & Most, 1981). The purpose of the present study was to explore the potential of training caregivers to facilitate the exploratory play of developmentally delayed children using an experimental design. Additionally, relationships between caregiver and child exploratory play behavior are considered.

Using pre- and post intervention videotaped data of 29 mothers and their children, caregiver and child exploratory play was examined across two groups. Fifteen children and caregivers were assigned to a group that provided caregivers with specific training on strategies to enhance exploratory play. The remaining fourteen children and caregivers comprised a group that received general information on child development.

Results did not indicate any significant differences between these groups in maternal or child behavior, however significant differences in the quality of children's play were noted over time. Additionally changes in the patterns of relationships between maternal behavior and child exploratory behavior are noted over time. Current findings are discussed in the context of previous findings on exploratory play.



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