Proposed Study of the Effects Inclusion and Peer Acceptance of Students with Learning Disabilities
Necole P. Joseph
Fall Quarter 2008
The mainstreaming movement began in 1975 with the passage of Public Law 94-142 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act). Since then, additional legislation has allowed for children with disabilities and special needs to be integrated into the regular education classroom setting through the concept of mainstreaming (Yell & Shriner, 1997). Though mainstreaming has been heralded as an effective way of improving the academic and social environment of children with learning disabilities, its success continues to raise questions concerning the quality of social interactions for children in the mainstreamed classroom (Helper, 1994).
Statement of the Problem
One critical factor that has been identified across studies regardless of age and grade level is the importance of social skills for peer acceptance. It has been postulated that an inclusive environment in and of itself will not guarantee peer acceptance. For this to happen, students, disabled and non-disabled, must possess social skills (Buysee, et al., 2002) regardless of age and grade level, is the importance of social skills for peer acceptance. It has been postulated that an inclusive environment in and of itself will not guarantee peer acceptance. For this to happen, students, disabled and non-disabled, must possess social skills (Buysee, et al., 2002). As stated in The Child Health Foundations and Agencies Network (as cited in Buysee, et al., 2002), children who enter kindergarten without the requisite social and emotional skills often have difficulties with behavioral, academic, and social problems that can persist into adulthood. Likewise, a finding by Stiliadis and Wiener (1989) support the concept that the levels of social perception non-disabled students possess about disabled peers is directly related to the level of peer acceptance as it pertains to disabled peers. According to Guralnick and Groom (1988), the majority of children with disabilities with disabilities have significant peer-related social skill deficits that will hinder the development of meaningful friendships with non-disabled peers. Proponents of inclusion have addressed not only the benefit of inclusion for a child with special needs, but also for genera l education students and teachers. Moore, Gilbreath, and Maiuri (1998) noted, “Inclusion, which is a philosophy of acceptance, belonging and community, also means that general education classes are structured to meet the needs of all the students in the class” (p.2). The authors express the necessity of meeting the needs of all students in the school system, not just those identified as having special needs. All students must have the support they need to succeed in school. Results of the study revealed that inclusion of students with disabilities had a positive effect on all parties involved, including non-disabled students, disabled students, and teachers (Moore, Gilbreath, & Maiuri, 1998).
As inclusive education moves forward, educators and administrators are slowly changing their philosophical beliefs about the way we educate children with disabilities. Inclusion has promoted the need to reform the overall design of classrooms to welcome and provide a meaningful education to a range of diverse children (Shoho, Katims, & Wilks, 1997). The goal of inclusive schools is to mainstream students with exceptional needs in the general education classroom and reorganize the environment to meet the needs of all students.
In order to fully understand and comprehend the impact of inclusion on peer acceptance, researchers must continue to investigate the relationship between the inclusive school environment and resultant peer relationships. Research thus far, as will be demonstrated in the review of related...