Informations and abstract
In this paper, recent results derived from studies on play activities, functional vs. pretend play, in autistic children were examined. The goal was twofold. On the one hand, we focused on three main theoretical interpretations, theory of mind, executive functions, central coherence. The goal was to discuss their contribution to our understanding of the deficit of play, identifying their strengths and weaknesses in the light of empirical findings, looking for a possible integration of the three approaches to have a unified picture of the deficit. On the other hand, the studies were examined to better understand contrasting research results. Some critical methodological differences were identified and new lines for future research were suggested.