The effect of medical/therapeutic clowns on the playfulness of children with intellectual disabilities

Rinat Feniger-Schaal, Amitai Stern, Einat Elizarov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Play is an essential component of children's development. Children with intellectual disability tend to have poor socioemotional abilities and impaired play. This study examined the effects of a medical/therapeutic clowning play intervention on the playfulness of children with intellectual disability.

METHOD: Two medical clowns facilitated a play intervention in a preschool classroom setting with a total of 52 children with intellectual disability. We compared before and after two groups that received the intervention: group 1 met the medical clowns once a week for 6 months (long-intervention group) and group 2 for 3 months (short intervention group). Children's functioning was assessed using the Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales. Children's playfulness was scored using the Test of Playfulness observational assessment. A teachers' focus- group was used to gather additional information on the clowns' work.

RESULTS: Children's playfulness increased significantly at the end of the intervention, whereas the improvement in the playfulness scores of group 1 was significantly larger than those of group 2 (t 50 = -4.82, p < .001). The teachers' focus group revealed additional benefits of the medical clowns' work.

CONCLUSION: The results shed light on the play and playfulness of children with intellectual disability and the possible contribution of a clowning play intervention to their development.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)186-195
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Laughter Therapy


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of medical/therapeutic clowns on the playfulness of children with intellectual disabilities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this