The Social Dimensions of Learning Disabilities: Essays in Honor of Tanis Bryan

The Social Dimensions of Learning Disabilities: Essays in Honor of Tanis Bryan

The Social Dimensions of Learning Disabilities: Essays in Honor of Tanis Bryan

The Social Dimensions of Learning Disabilities: Essays in Honor of Tanis Bryan

Synopsis

Bringing together over 25 years of research into the social aspects of learning disabilities (LD), this book presents a range of topics that reflect on the richness of research interests in the discipline. In honor of Tanis Bryan, the pioneer in research on social competence of children with LD, the researchers that follow her lead systematically examine critical issues in the social relationships of these children. The book begins by placing the work of Bryan and her research associates' in context, in terms of the prevailing theoretical frameworks and social political influences that led to the enormous impact of the work.

Excerpt

Teachers and parents have always recognized the central role of social development in the lives of students with learning disabilities (LD). The pioneers of the field of learning disabilities, Kirk, Johnson and Mykelbust, Orton, also acknowledged social skills as a significant challenge for many of these students. Yet it was not until 1974 that two research articles were published that made the quality of these children's social lives impossible to ignore. Tanis Bryan (1974a) reported that mainstreamed children identified as LD were not only less popular than other children, but that their communicative environment with typical non-ID peers was more hostile (Bryan, 1974b). These startling findings ignited an explosion of research on the social development of students with LD.

More than 200 studies in the past 25 years have replicated, extended, refined, and clarified these findings. These studies have varied widely in theoretical perspectives, methodological techniques, and their participants' individual and demographic characteristics, and histories of educational placements (see Gresham & MacMillan, 1997; Pearl & Bay, 1999, for excellent reviews). Moreover, a meta-analysis of 152 of these studies (Kavale & Forness, 1996) showed that 3 out of 4 students with LD had social skills characteristics that are significantly different from typical nonLD peers. This proportion held true across teacher, peer, and self-ratings, and across most aspects of social competence.

Tanis Bryan is the pioneer in research on social competence of children with LD. Together with her research associates: Ruth Pearl, Mavis Donahue, James Bryan, and Susanna Pflaum, Tanis Bryan systematically researched critical issues concerning the low social competence or unpopularity of children with LD. They developed an interactional framework to guide their investigations. This framework assumed that “characteristics of children interact in significant ways with characteristics of teachers, classrooms, and families” (Bryan et al., 1983, p. 1). At the Chicago Institute of Research on Learning Disabilities (1977–1983), Bryan and her research team conducted numerous studies that covered diverse topics related to the social worlds of students with LD, including communicative competence and causal attributions, as well as the perceptions of others (peers, teachers, parents, and even naive raters) about these students' social interactions.

Tanis Bryan (1998) provides an excellent summary of the Chicago Institute's research. It suffices for us to highlight some of the most instructive . . .

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