The involvement of autistic children in early childhood education

Marja Syrjämäki, Jyrki Reunamo, Henri Pesonen, Raija Pirttimaa, Elina Kontu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Research on the involvement of autistic children in daily activities in inclusive early childhood education is scarce. In Finland, all children, including autistic children, under the age of seven (before basic education) are entitled to participate in early childhood education and care. Children also attend compulsory, free-of-charge pre-primary education during the year before their basic education begins. Furthermore, attending early childhood education and care is not dependent whether a child requires day care because of their parents’ work. Autistic children attend early childhood education in inclusive day care centres. Thus, in this study, we examined the involvement of autistic children by focusing on the objects of their attention during daily activities in inclusive day care centres in Finland. The data were collected between 2017 and 2020, during the research and development project Progressive Feedback, in which children were observed using systematic sampling. The study material consisted of observations of seven autistic children as part of a larger sample of children. The data were analysed using statistical methods. The results indicated that, during their deepest involvement, autistic children expressed positive emotions regarding participation and collaborated with and directed their focus towards other children. Moreover, autistic children demonstrated the most intensive involvement during adult-supported play.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Feb 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • autism
  • Early childhood education
  • emotional well-being
  • involvement
  • play
  • social orientations

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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