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Keywords:

  • autism;
  • paediatric occupational therapy

Abstract

This study investigated the effect of choice on a colouring task in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Children with ASD typically have difficulty engaging in purposeful activities, which makes progress toward skill development difficult in therapeutic or educational settings. Participants included 26 male and female children with ASD, aged 8 to 15 years. In this counterbalanced design, participants either chose which picture to colour or were given a picture to colour. When given a choice, participants spent more time colouring (p = 0.005) and used more coloured markers (p = 0.016), but did not colour more of the page (p = 498). This study demonstrated that when offering a choice in a colouring activity, children with ASD participated and engaged in the colouring task for a longer period of time and used a larger array of markers while doing so. However, associated small effect sizes require caution with generalization. Future research should focus upon offering choice with other age-appropriate activities to determine its efficacy as a useful strategy for facilitating activity engagement for children with ASD. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.