Thursday, May 2, 2019

Recess doesn't have to be so hard for kids with autism

The 55 kids with autism talked with other kids, climbed with them on the jungle gym and played tag, just like their fellow students. They also spent about a quarter of their recess time alone or with adults, such as teachers or playground monitors. They were being observed as part of a University of Washington research project, whose surprising results were reported on this week in The Seattle Times.

While children with autism may have trouble weathering the noise and chaos of recess, or have challenges reading social cues, they can do fine mingling with peers during recess, the study concluded. The younger children with autism were more likely to strike up a conversation than older kids, typically while at play. Assistant Professor Jill Locke, Ph.D., noted that the children's interest and motivation to join in on the playground should spur educators to find ways to make recess more inclusive for students with autism. For example, if a child with autism likes to sing, it could be incorporated into a game of tag—when the song ended, everyone could freeze.

A study like this may be small, and the struggle for many children with autism at recess and in other social settings is real. But it offers insights that may prove eye-opening to educators—and to parents who are dubious about how a typically-developing child might interact with one who has autism.

Encouraging children to interact with ones of all abilities is one of the best educations they can get.

Image: Getty

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