Benefits of medical clowning in the treatment of young children with autism spectrum disorder
We investigated the contribution of group therapy delivered by a medical clown to young children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). So far, scientific publications regarding medical clowning focus on general health advantages. The current study is the first controlled research examining the use of medical clowning in the therapy for children with ASD. Twenty-four children aged 2–6 years old with ASD enrolled in our special education intensive program were examined before and after group sessions with clown intervention (CI) and other intervention (OI). We tested stereotypic behaviors, verbal expression, play reciprocity, and social smiles. Data was collected during 12 weeks of intervention, and the trajectory of change was evaluated in addition to the pre-/post-intervention.
What is Known:
• Many therapies are used and proven as efficacious interventions for children with ASD.
• So far, medical clowning was not tested as an intervention or therapy for ASD.
What is New:
• Medical clowning sessions with children with ASD elicited enhanced communication during the interventions as compared with other interventions.
• Medical clowning sessions contributed to a decrease in frequency of stereotypic movements over time, in children with ASD.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorder Treatment Medical clowning Complementary and alternative therapies for ASD
Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2nd Edition
Autism spectrum disorder
Shahar Shefer: Conception and design of the research, initial draft of the article.
Ruth Rosenan: Data analysis, editing of final draft and final approval of the version to be published.
Odelia Leon Attia: Data analysis and interpretation of results, approval of final draft.
Hamutal Ende: Medical clown, performed the interventions in the study and contributed to data collection, approval of final draft.
Ori A. Wald: Data collection and data processing, approval of final draft.
Lidia V. Gabis: Conception and design of study, interpretation of results and drafting the initial article.
This study was partially funded by Magi Foundation and Foundation Adelis.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Helsinki committee at the Sheba Medical Center, Ramat-Gan, Israel, approval no. SMC-0551-13, approved the current study.
Informed consent was obtained from all parents of the children whom participated in the study.
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