There is a substantial effort of researchers in designing and assessing interventions aiming to promote the social interaction between children with autism and their peers, in the context of inclusion. Among the results that are controversial are the issues related to the role of the play context (free or directed) in the promotion of children's social competence. The aim of this study was to critically review the literature about this topic by searching evidences about what sort of play context tend to promote peer interaction and by examining the methodological issues that surround this debate. The conclusion is that both contexts promote the development of social competence, but the free one tends to be more permanent and spontaneous.
autism; social interaction; school inclusion; free play; structured play