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Brief Report: Designing a Playground for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders––Effects on Playful Peer Interactions


This study investigated possible changes in social play and initiations in eight boys (5 to 7-years-old) with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) who were moving from an old to a new school playground that was designed specifically to enhance playful peer interaction. Each boy was observed for half an hour over three occasions in the old, then the new setting. The playgrounds differed in design, spatial density and identity of potential play partners. As hypothesised, frequency of group play and overall social initiations increased significantly in the new setting. We discuss how playgrounds with appropriate levels of physical challenge and support for both structured, imaginative play and solitary observation may support peer interactions in children with ASD.

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We would like to thank the pupils, staff and parents for their cooperation in the study, and colleagues for helpful comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Nicola Yuill.

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Yuill, N., Strieth, S., Roake, C. et al. Brief Report: Designing a Playground for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders––Effects on Playful Peer Interactions. J Autism Dev Disord 37, 1192–1196 (2007).

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  • Autism
  • Play
  • Peer-interaction
  • Playground design