Although the specific effects of physical abuse are largely unknown, studies have shown deficiencies in the social behaviors of physically abused children. Because play is an important developmental process influencing socialization, physical abuse may adversely affect the developmental play age of children. This study compared the developmental play age of two groups of children aged 1 to 5 years, 12 of whom were physically abused and 12 of whom were not physically abused. Children’s play behaviors were recorded using the Preschool Play Scale. Deficits in developmental play age and play imitation were found in the abused group. These results have implications for occupational therapy practice in the identification, assessment, and treatment of physically abused children.

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