Autism Spectrum Studies Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders

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Pamela Wolfberg, Ph.D., Professor

Office: Burk Hall 273

Phone: 415-338-7651
Web: and

Office hours: click here for appointment scheduling

Educational Background

Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley-SFSU (1994)

Master of Arts, San Fancisco State Unversity (1988)

National Diploma, Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany (1983)

Bachelor of Arts, Kent State University (1979)

Dr. Wolfberg is Professor of special education and faculty advisor for the Autism Spectrum Graduate Certificate and Related Studies at SFSU. She concurrently serves on the executive committee and faculty of the Joint Doctoral program in special education with the University of California, Berkeley-SFSU. Her primary teaching responsibilities include graduate seminars focused on autism theory, research and practice, atypical child development and special topics pertaining to contemporary issues in the field.


Research Interests

Dr. Wolfberg's primary research interests center on the unique needs of individuals on the autism spectrum in the areas of socialization, play and imagination, and inclusion in peer culture. As originator of the Integrated Play Groups (IPG) model and founder of the Autism Institute on Peer Socialization and Play, she leads research, training and development efforts to establish inclusive peer socialization programs worldwide. She is further engaged in global outreach as a human rights advocate for the child’s right to social inclusion in play, recreation and cultural experiences. She is widely published and the recipient of several eminent awards for her scholarship, research, and service to the community.


Selected Grants

Integrated Play Groups: Promoting Symbolic Play, Social Engagement and Communication in Children with Autism Across Settings with Typical Peers (2008-2012) Autism Speaks Treatment Award -Clinical ResearchProject Mosaic: Preparing Highly Qualified Educators to Meet the Unique Needs of Learners on the Autism Spectrum in Diverse Settings (2006-2011) Personnel Preparation in Special Education, US Department of Education, OSERS (#H325K060211)


Project Common Ground: Preparing Highly Qualified Speech-Language Pathologists to Meet the Communication Needs of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Diverse Settings (2011 - 2016) Personnel Preparation in Special Education, Early Intervention and Related Services, US Department of Education, OSERS (## H325K110326) - co-PI with Dr. Betty Yu, SFSU


Integrated Play and Drama Groups for Children and Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum (2008-2012) Transcooperative Research, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation with the Flora Family and Mendelson Family Foundations - co-PI with Dr. Henri Julius, University of Rostock, Germany


Selected Publications

Wolfberg, P.J., (in press) Integrated Play Groups: Supporting Children with Autism in Essential Play Experiences with Typical Peers (working title) In L. Reddy, C. Schaefer, & L. File-Hall (Eds), Empirically-based play interventions for children (second edition) American Psychological Association.

Dunn Buron, K. & Wolfberg, P.J. (Eds.). (in press) Learners on the autism spectrum: Preparing highly qualified educators (second edition). Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.(recipient of 2009 Literary Award, Autism Society of America)

Wolfberg, P.J. (in press) Integrated Play Groups intervention model.  In K. Quill (Ed.). Choices: A parent’s guide to social Interventions for children with autism, Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.

Wolfberg, P., (2013) Integrated Play Groups Model: How Parents Can Support their Children in Play Experiences With Peers, Autism Bay Area Magazine (Jan-Feb)

Wolfberg, P.J., Bottema-Beutel, K. & DeWitt, M.,. (2012) Including children with autism in social and imaginary play with typical peers: Integrated Play Groups Model, American Journal of Play. Vol 5, 1, Fall click here for Abstract

Wolfberg, P.J. (2011). Die Bedeutung des Spiels fuer Peer-Beziehungen und soziale Inklusion in paedagogischen Einrichtungen fuer Klein- und Vorschulkinder (In B. Ytterhus & M. Kreuzer (Eds.) „Dabei sein ist nicht alles“ – Soziale Inklusion und Marginalisie-rung in integrativen Gruppen des Kindergartens – Eine Anthologie, International Buchprojeket, Universität Trondheim mit Hochschule Niederrhein. (English translation: The meaning of play for peer relations and social inclusion in pedagogical settings for young children: Being nearby isn’t everything – Social inclusion and marginalization in integrated groups within early childhood settings  – An Anthology)


Wolfberg, P.J. (2011) Sensory playground structures designed for children with autism: Creating equal access to inclusive play for All children. Autism Spectrum Quarterly.


Wolfberg, P.J. (2011-2012) Integrated Play Groups (IPG) model. In Lyons & Freilch (Eds.) Cutting-edge therapies for autism. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing Company.


Wolfberg, P.J. (2010). Peer play and the autism spectrum: The art of guiding children’s socialization and imagination (Integrated Play Groups Field Manual) Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company. (Chinese Translation from 2003 edition)


Wolfberg, P.J. (2010). Play! A portal to new worlds. Inclusive play-The Outside Scoop, 2, 5 – 10. 


Neufeld, D. & Wolfberg, P.J. (2009). From novice to expert: Guiding children on the autism spectrum in Integrated Play Groups. In Schaefer, C. (Ed.) Play therapy for preschool children. Washington, D.C: American Psychological Association.


Wolfberg, P. J. (2009). Play and imagination in children with autism (Second edition) Teachers College Press, Columbia: New York


Wolfberg, P.J. (2009) ¡A jugar! Incluyendo a los niños dentro del Espectro Autista en la cultura del juego con sus pares (English translation: Play! Including children on the autism spectrum in the culture of childhood), Paso a Paso, 07 Vol. 17.