Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Measuring and Promoting Acceptance of Young Children with Disabilities

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Measuring and Promoting Acceptance of Young Children with Disabilities

Article excerpt

Greater social acceptance by peers and social integration are cited as potential outcomes of inclusion of young children with disabilities (Guralnick, 1999; Peck, Carlson, & Helmstetter, 1992; Wolery & Wilbers, 1994). The successful inclusion of young children is multidimensional and complex, requiring attention to far more than simply placing a child with a disability in an inclusive class. Successful inclusion may be influenced by three interactive factors: attitude, resources, and curricula (Bricker, 1995). Research on acceptance of young children with disabilities illuminates this position indicating that placement alone does not guarantee acceptance. Within inclusive settings, young children without disabilities have multiple opportunities throughout the day to choose to play or interact with children with disabilities. However, research demonstrates that children without disabilities typically do not interact with their peers with disabilities unless they are supported and encouraged to do so (Frea, Craig-Unkefer, Odom, & Johnson, 1999; Odom & Brown, 1993). Choice of playmates may be one indicator of acceptance of children with disabilities. And, like the research on social interactions among children with and without disabilities, acceptance does not occur without support (Favazza & Odom, 1996, 1997; Odom, Zercher, Li, Marquart, & Sandall, 1997; Sale & Carey, 1995). While we continue to push for the inclusion of young children with disabilities, we may not adequately address the need for creating more accepting early childhood environments that would support social integration and acceptance.

To address this issue, Favazza and Odom (1996) developed a tool for measuring attitudes toward individuals with disabilities and an intervention designed to promote acceptance of individuals with disabilities by kindergarten-age children (Favazza & Odom, 1997). The original studies by Favazza and Odom (1996, 1997) had impressive results and provided directions for future research. The purpose of this study was to extend these earlier studies by addressing several issues. Study 1 reexamined the reliability of the Acceptance Scale for Kindergarten (ASK) (Favazza & Odom, 1996). During test development the ASK had excellent psychometric properties (for details, see Favazza & Odom, 1996). However, the sample used for the study was predominately Caucasian, representing children from middle to high socioeconomic status (SES). Would the instrument also be reliable with children who were predominately non-Caucasian from low SES backgrounds?

Study 2 reexamines the intervention designed to promote acceptance addressing several issues. As with the development of the ASK, the multicomponent intervention was field-tested with a predominately Caucasian sample from middle to high SES. Would the strategies be as effective with other children represented in the sample? Second, the intervention contained multiple components that would contribute to changes in levels of acceptance toward individuals with disabilities and were rooted in the foundational theories of the attitude construct (Triandis, Adamopolous, & Brinberg, 1984). Specifically, attitudes are learned (Triandis, 1971) and shaped by direct influences (direct contact with the attitude referent); indirect influences (through stories, pictures, and discussions); and by the child's primary social group, the family (Triandis et al., 1984). The assumption was that programs designed to promote change in attitudes must have multiple components to address the multifaceted influences on attitude formation (Favazza & Odom, 1997). Was that assumption correct, or is it possible that any single component of the intervention could have produced similar changes in children's attitudes? Would a component analysis of the different strategies used in the intervention yield differential results?

Third, gender differences often occur in attitude research, with girls being more accepting than boys (Favazza & Odom, 1996; Sigelman, Miller, & Whitworth, 1986). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.