The usual way of measuring behavior such as limited eye contact, lack of reciprocal social interaction, fewer greetings and failure to initiate interactions such as offering comfort to someone who is hurt, for example, is to observe how children react in certain contrived situations. This study hypothesizes that children with autism will behave differently from children with mental retardation and children with typical development during natural situations. It proposes that that a standardized way of observing children in the everyday context of school recess would be a helpful assessment tool. The playground observation checklist is just such an observation tool, and the article describes how it was used and the results it produced. These results were then checked for accuracy against other information obtained by the usual autism assessment methods.
There were ten items on the behavior checklist, which is a very small amount, and for each child in the sample of 81 a score of yes/no was recorded against each item during a 15 minute observation period. Two observers recorded the sessions simultaneously, and any instance where a child interacted with an adult during the 15 minutes was discounted, and the observation was repeated until a session with only peer to peer interaction took place. ...Show more