Inclusion: Children with Autism and the Playground

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Mainstream Playground

When we think about inclusion, we typically think about the classroom setting. For many students with autism, social skills are a known area of deficit and an area for IEP teams to write goals and objectives. In the article, Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the Mainstream Playground, the authors do a nice job detailing the value of the playground as an important area for inclusion. With schools placing an increased importance on academic instruction and minimizing the importance of play, early childhood practices need to advocate for the importance of playground time, especially for students with ASD.

Physical Improvements: Students with autism typically have slower motor development compared to their typically developing peers. We can use the playground as a place to increase physical motor development in an age appropriate and fun way. Peers can interact with students with autism by playing games that require students to interact such as bouncing a ball to one another, pushing or pulling a wagon, pushing a toy car or pushing each other on a swing set. The physical skills are not only strengthened, but enjoyed by all students in an inclusive playground setting.

Social improvements: Students with autism may find recess time just as daunting as classroom time when it comes to social interactions. School staff and teachers can encourage students with autism to use playground time as an opportunity to work on turn taking, initiating conversation, and age-appropriate play activities including group games. With help from peers, playground time can be a valuable time for inclusion where social skills and language are worked on naturally. When students are playing, they often do not realize they are working on goals and objectives because it feels “fun” for them.

The playground is an important and valuable location to encourage inclusion for students with autism. The classroom is not the only location to encourage language and social skill development. With peer support, the school staff can encourage and advocate for the importance of playground time.



 L.Couper, D. Sutherland, A. Van Bysterveldt. (2013) Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Mainstream Playground. Kairanga Journal, 14, 25-31. – VOLUME 14, ISSUE




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