ASSESSMENT OF SOCIAL COMPETENCE IN STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES
Diane Haager California State University, Los Angeles
Sharon Vaughn University of Miami
For the past two decades, research has addressed critical issues related to the social competence of individuals with learning disabilities (LD). A significant body of literature highlights the social difficulties of youngsters with LD as compared to typically achieving, nondisabled peers (see, for reviews, Hazel & Schumaker, 1988; Pearl, Donahue, & Bryan, 1986). Studies have also examined the social development of individuals with LD relative to normal developmental patterns (e.g., Vaughn, Haager, Hogan, & Kouzekanani, 1992) and the extent to which within-individual differences occur over time ( Vaughn & Hogan, 1994). According to Killen ( 1989), the ongoing, active, social processes of interpretation, evaluation, and coordination of social events are central to understanding social development in general. Indeed, most of the social competence research related to individuals with LD could be viewed as examining how individuals with LD interpret, evaluate, or coordinate social events.
Killen ( 1989) also identified three dimensions key to understanding these social processes: context, conflict, and coordination. According to Killen, context influences the type and structure of social interactions. Thus, youngsters behave differently in various social settings, such as their own home, the homes of others, school, and community settings. The issue of context is particularly important when considering the social competence of individuals with LD. We would expect that the context of school would not be particularly "comfortable" for students with LD given their significant aca