March 6, 2003
The first of the ten articles to be discussed examined a training program that consisted of an individualized, classroom-based social skills intervention. In the study, there were 45 children with learning disabilities 9-12 years old. These children were in self-contained special education classrooms. Thirteen children received intervention for 6 weeks and 7 children received intervention for 12 weeks. The remaining 25 children were in the control group, which received no intervention. The intervention consisted of the SST and AST programs. These programs were designed to facilitate social problem solving, role-playing, and modeling of appropriate social behavior. The children were given the treatment in the form of games much like Monopoly. Moderate gains in social skills and a decrease in problem behavior were found in the group of thirteen children who received the 6-week intervention when compared to the control group. Corresponding changes were not observed for the group of 7 children who received 12 weeks of intervention. The study suggested that this was due to the dynamics of that particular classroom. Additionally, the authors commented that a threat to validity in this study was the lack of random assignment of students to groups. An interesting result of this study was that the intervention prevented deterioration of peer relations while not actually improving peer acceptance. (Weiner & Harris, 1997). A second research study considered language learning disabilities and social skills. This study employed 100 children 8-12 years old. 50 children had language learning disabilities and 50 control children did not. The 100 children, children with LLD and the control children, were given measures in intelligence, language skill, and social discourse individually in interviews over an hour and a half. Furthermore, their teachers were asked to complete a Social Skills Rating Scale that compared the children to "typical children" of the same age and in the same grade. Children with LLD had significantly lower performance IQ scores than the children without LLD. Children with LLD demonstrated impaired language skills, for both receptive and expressive language, when compared to the control group. Children with LLD displayed poorer social discourse skills and were rated lower in social competence by their teachers. The children were also examined for differences in problem behavior. ANCOVA was used to analyze problem behavior. It was determined that the children with LLD showed significantly more problem behaviors than the children without LLD. Researchers illustrated that having an LLD has a negative effect on children's social discourse performance. Additionally, poor social skills are more fundamentally associated with problem behavior in children with LLD. The implications of this research study suggested that further investigation be done on the processes underlying behavioral risk in children with LLD. Furthermore, assessment and intervention plans should not only focus on the child's primary learning difficulty, but also address the child's social needs. Intervention programs that focus on understanding the ways that communication impairments can affect behavior and supporting strategies to structure the language environment to compensate for the child's communication difficulties could potentially be beneficial. (Vallance, Cummings, & Humphries, 1998). Parents of 16 children ages 10-14 were interviewed on the subject of their perceptions of the quality of the friendships of their learning disabled children in the third article. The authors stated that there had not been very much research into the quality of friendships of students with learning disabilities in general education classrooms, while there has been quite a lot of research into the number of friends that learning disabled students had when included in general education classrooms....
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