Intervention of Medical (Therapeutic) Clowns in a Kindergarten for Children with Intellectual Disability: A Case Study

Rinat Feniger-Schaal, Atay Citron, Esti Mittlelberg, Yuval Ben Eli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, there is growing evidence for the efficacy of medical clowning as a para-medical profession. In the present study, we explored the possibility of expanding the work of medical clowns into the special education system, hypothesising that medical clowns can contribute to the development of socio-emotional abilities of children with intellectual disability (ID). Two medical clowns worked with 50 children in a kindergarten cluster for children aged 3–7 with ID for 6 months. All clowning sessions were videotaped and coded using the Test of Playfulness (ToP) observation instrument. Parents and the clowns were interviewed about the children’s participation. This preliminary report presents a case study of one of the children who participated in the study. The level of playfulness after the intervention increased compared to the baseline, including social skills, use of humour and pretend play, flexibility and engagement. The mother’s interview indicates the unique gains of the clown’s intervention. The preliminary results point to the importance of clowning and free-play for children with ID, and expand the possibilities for interacting with children with ID to enhance their socio-emotional abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-305
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Disability, Development and Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The findings reported here are based on research conducted as part of the project named: medical clowns in children with intellectual disability funded by the Magi Foundation, Foundation Adelis to the University of Haifa, Israel, and no restrictions have been imposed on free access to, or publication of, the research data. Opinions reflect those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the funding agency(ies). We are grateful to the Research Fund of the Magi and Adelis Foundations for supporting our research. We thank also the children who participated in this study, their families, and the accommodating and highly professional staff of the Flora Kindergarten Cluster in Haifa, directed by Tali Koenig. We Thank Shanco Yaron Goshen for his professional guidance and inspiration.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Intellectual disability
  • intervention
  • kindergarten
  • medical clowns
  • playfulness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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