After having read the original article and the comments made on it, I would like to share some comments about this, coming from a perspective which probably differs from what may be 74/75ths to perhaps 149/150ths of the rest of you who are Neurotypicals (NTs). You see, I have been diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD... God... how I hate that last word), such as those who who are being put into the enclosure. However, in my case, my childhood occurred before ASDs were widely known by teachers and doctors, and for the most part, a bright but reclusive and awkward child. It was not until I was in my 40s that I was diagnosed, at which point, I could look back at my life and see where various events, behaviours and tendencies may very likely have been the result of my being on the spectrum.
1) Nowhere was the size of this area indicated, nor sufficient details about the surroundings. If it is of a significant size, OK. But even then, it has been pointed out by folks in the area that it lacked adequate shade and was in other ways lacking when compared with another playground at the school, which was apparently featured on a pamphlet of some sort.
2) When possible, kids with ASDs, whether they are low functioning and in need of 24/7 care, or so high functioning that they generally appear normal, should be treated as much the same as NTs, doing the same activities on the same playgrounds and as much as possible in the same classes. Yes, we **may** need a bit less distraction in the classroom (no covering the walls with unnecessary maps, posters, etc.), **may** have issues with bright lights, the buzzing from the lights, etc., and **may** get upset at changes such as a substitute. We **may** also be subject to being bullied. But at the same time, we **may** act up because we may be bored with what the NTs have taken days to understand while we got it in no time flat. (And grades are not a good indicator here...) The list goes on... But all this is necessary, because by doing so, we learn to socialize as best we can, and people have a chance to learn that AS vs. NT is no different than where we were born, the color of our hair, our race or anything else.
3) If you are going to fence off an area, take advantage of the fact and fence off an area for all the kids to use, not just those diagnosed with an ASD. I know of many schools where this was done for younger kids, who NT, Aspie or Autie are prone to go running off under the right conditions (such as chasing off after a ball). Indeed, the entire playground areas at schools I attended were big enough to play baseball in, if not larger.
4) As for the "dirt floor" comment... ours were a mix of asphalt, grass and dirt covered with sand, pea gravel or wood chips, to cut down on puddles and mud while allowing a chance for the kids to work off excess energy. More recently, there has been a move to use the rubber "asphalt" which is springy and more forgiving than either the hard ground or asphalt... fewer injuries from falls. And no, this is not a fancy rich area, but rather rural Appalachia, where 90% of us fed the livestock both before and after school, and were used to seeing garbage cans in the halls to capture water from leaks in the roof.
Don't get me wrong... I am not saying all children should be treated in 100% the same way. That is one of the problems with NCLB as implemented in many schools, and perhaps symptomatic of trying to teach 30+ children in a single classroom with one teacher. If a child has a speech impediment, such as saying "ch" vs. "st" but otherwise has a large vocabulary and reads and does math several grade levels higher than their peers, you should have a speech pathologist work with the impediment and give them instruction at their advanced levels when ever possible. If, however, they have problems reading or doing math, but are otherwise doing fine, give them the extra instruction they need in those areas, and otherwise they are just like any other child. Perhaps by doing so can we reclaim what once put us on the Moon, and go beyond that to possibly fix many of the ills which we are presently suffering.