Understanding the individual meaning of daily activities for children with developmental disabilities such as autism is both important and challenging for researchers and practitioners. Rigorous participant observation offers a method for developing this knowledge base by including the child’s perspective. Through literature and examples from an ethnography of young children with autism, this article illustrates the application of participant observation to children with developmental disabilities. Specific strategies can promote valid interpretations despite developmental, linguistic, and perceptual differences between adult researchers and child participants.

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