The Games They Play: Observations of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder on the School Playground
Gilmore, Sean Gunha
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Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) spend a considerable amount of their school day on the playground with peers. Previous literature on playground engagement has used quantitative methods, but there is limited research using qualitative observations. Using a mixed-methods approach, 55 elementary school-aged children with ASD were observed on the school playground using the Playground Observation of Peer Engagement. Data were examined through collecting, analyzing, and merging qualitative and quantitative data. This study found that children with ASD: mostly participated in solitary and peripheral activities; demonstrated appropriate initiations and responses to peers; displayed atypical, motoric behavior during solitary activities; and most frequently displayed neutral affect. These findings are important as they can inform schools of intervention and supports for children with ASD.
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