Dr. Watkins and colleagues publish findings of study to improve social interaction between young children with and without ASD
Children with ASD often have difficulties with peer interaction, and research suggests that students with ASD in inclusive classrooms generally do not interact or socialize with their typically developing classmates during play activities. This study assessed whether an intervention package consisting of interest-based structured play activities involving adult instruction, modeling, and response to child questions would result in an increase in social interaction between children with and without ASD in an inclusive preschool classroom. Four children with ASD and four typically developing classmates participated in this study.
During free play activities, little to no interaction between the children was observed. When the intervention was in place during play time, children with ASD demonstrated increases in both initiations and responses to their peers. The amount of time the children spent in interactive play increased as well. The intervention was simple and efficient, fitting easily within the normal classroom routine, and the classroom teacher reported that students with ASD were more involved in other classroom activities after participating in the intervention.