Improving Peer Engagement of Children With Autism on the School Playground: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Mark Kretzmann, Wendy Shih, and Connie Kasari
This study aimed to test the effects of a psychosocial intervention, Remaking Recess, on peer engagement for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Using a randomized, wait-list-controlled design, the intervention was implemented during recess at four elementary schools. The immediate treatment (IT) group consisted of 13 (2 female) elementary school students with ASD and the wait-list (WL) group contained 11 (4 female) students with ASD. All of the children with ASD were fully included in the general education program. Analyses revealed that time spent engaged with peers was significantly increased for the IT group and maintained over the follow-up. School playground staff in the IT group showed increased behaviors aimed at improving peer engagement for children with ASD compared to playground staff at the WL sites. These improvements did not maintain to follow-up. These results suggest that a low dose, brief intervention can be beneficial in increasing peer engagement for children with autism in inclusive settings, but continued support of playground staff is likely needed.