Brief Report: Examining the Association Between Classroom Social Network Inclusion and Playground Peer Engagement Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often face barriers when establishing peer connections at school. This aim of this study is to explore how social network inclusion in the classroom is associated with playground peer engagement. Independent observers administered friendship surveys to determine social network inclusion in the classroom and recorded the playground engagement states of 55 children with ASD from 42 general education classrooms in 16 public elementary schools in the northeastern United States. Linear regression models were used to examine associations between social network inclusion and playground engagement. Results indicated an association between social network inclusion and playground engagement. Children who were included to a greater degree in their classrooms’ social network spent more time engaged with peers on the playground. These findings highlight the importance of supporting social interactions in multiple contexts in schools.