New Study Highlights the Importance of Social Interaction for Autistic Children

Dr Blythe Corbett Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator is the lead author of the study.*

Children on the autistic spectrum and typically developing children were observed playing together in a playground setting.

It was found the two groups played in similar ways.

The autistic children were found to initiate and engage in play less but that other children can help to increase these interactions by simple instructions.

The study shows the importance of peers in helping children on the autistic spectrum to interact.

Dr Corbett is quoted in ScienceDaily as saying:

“One of the key places we learn about social rules growing up is during play, but if you don’t participate, chances are you’re not going to learn the rules or be motivated to interact with other children.”

Children between the ages of 8-12 were studied with more than 30 peer interactions being observed.

Saliva samples were taken at both home and several times during play to measure the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

The children on the autistic spectrum showed higher levels of stress.

Dr Corbett States:

“Although children with autism may experience increased stress in social interactions, it was encouraging to see that reciprocal socialization can be facilitated by peer solicitation,”

Dr Corbett then adds:

“It all starts with a simple bid to play.”

The original article on ScienceDaily can be read here

*Blythe A. Corbett, Deanna M. Swain, Cassandra Newsom, Lily Wang, Yanna Song, Dale Edgerton. Biobehavioral profiles of arousal and social motivation in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12184