Participation in Organized Extracurricular Social Activities Is Challenging for Kids with ASD

October 30, 2023

Study Calls for Activities to Be More Inclusive and Accessible for Children on the Spectrum

New Australian research has comprehensively examined organized extracurricular social activities (OESA) participation for children with autism compared to neurotypical children across three levels of participation. In the study, level one participation represented fully engaged children, level two represented partially engaged children, and level three represented lower engaged children. The study determined that children on the spectrum participated in significantly fewer OESAs, of less magnitude and intensity than neurotypical children at level one of participation. Interestingly, neither the number nor magnitude of OESAs differed between groups at levels two and three. Generally speaking, participation in OESA can significantly impact all children’s physical, cognitive, psychological, and social well-being. However, children on the spectrum may be at risk of missing out on these benefits due to program features and social environments. The authors suggest that to make OESAs more inclusive and accessible for children with autism, program leaders should offer clear communication, provide training to understand and support their unique needs, encourage peer support and friendships, and create safe and inclusive social environments. By giving these accommodations, the potential benefits of OESA participation for children with autism can be maximized.

Original Study

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