Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Teaching Play Skills to Visually Impaired Preschool Children: Its Effect on Social Interaction

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Teaching Play Skills to Visually Impaired Preschool Children: Its Effect on Social Interaction

Article excerpt

It is has come to be expected that children with special needs (SN) should be mainstreamed in regular education classes and thereby learn their cognitive, behavioral, and social skills from their typically developing (TD) peers by taking them as models during activities (Guralnick, 1999; McWilliam & Casey, 2008; Terpstra & Tamura, 2008). However, since problems experienced in variables both in and outside of the classroom have an impact on mainstreaming education, as long as there is no systematic interventions applied, this period does not meet the necessary expectations to ensure successful mainstreaming (Guralnick, 2010; Macy, Squires, & Barton, 2009; Odom & McEvoy, 1990; Wolery & Wilbers, 1994).

More specifically, the results of studies carried out in this field have shown that children with SN placed in mainstreaming classes during the preschool period were neither able to initiate interaction with their peers on their own, particularly in unstructured activities such as free-time games (Odom & Watts, 1991), nor were they able take advantage of educational opportunities (Fabes, Hanish, & Martin, 2003; McGaha & Farran, 2001; Odom & Strain, 1984). Among the problems experienced in mainstreaming classes are SN childrens own inabilities and the fact that their peers do not include them, or only include them on a limited level, in their activities because of SN childrens not having the necessary communication, game, and/or interaction skills (McWilliam & Casey, 2008; Odom & Strain, 1984; Ôzaydin, Tekin-îftar, & Kaner, 2008; Strain & Odom, 1986).

Several researchers have studied social interactions and children with developmental disabilities and their peers (Goldstein, Kaczmarek, Pennington, & Shafer, 1992; Guralnick, 1997; Guralnick, Neville, Hammond, & Connor, 2007). There have been fewer studies regarding the social interactions of preschool children who are visually impaired (VI) (Celeste, 2006; DAllura, 2002; McGaha & Farran, 2001). Research conducted on children who are VI has revealed a significant delay in cognitive development (Dale & Sonksen, 2002), social interaction behaviors (Celeste & Grum, 2010; Crocker & Orr, 1996), language acquisition (James & Stojanovik, 2007; Pizzo & Bruce, 2010), and symbolic play developments (Roger & Puchalski, 1984) for these children when compared to their TD peers. In addition, it was found that the severity of VI childrens developmental regression and disabilites varied depending on the degree of vision loss and the age when visual impairment occurred (Dale & Sonksen, 2002). As an example, it was emphasized that children who are severely VI not only experience serious retardation in expressive language improvements, other developmental areas are badly affected compared to children with better vision levels (Mukaddes, Kilinçaslan, Küçükyazici, Çevketoglu, & Tuncer, 2007). What is more is that it was determined that blind children and those who are severely VI exhibited such repetitive behaviors as clapping and weaving hands (Brown, Hobson, Lee, & Stevenson, 1997; Tröster & Brambring, 1994). In addition, they exhibited a number of behaviors attributed to children with Autism, such as lacking in understanding and sharing others' feelings (Cass, Sonksen, & McConachie, 1994; Hobson & Lee, 2010; Tröster, Brambring, & Beelmann, 1991). Research results also suggest that the deficits of VI children's play skills may negatively affect their interaction with their peers. The following paragraph will analyze studies examining VI children play development progress.

Studies on early childhood indicate that preschool children's games are the first environment where they acquire social knowledge and interact with their peers (Fantuzzo et ah, 1995). It has been observed that children learn social roles and rules such as sharing, lining up, colloboration, and undertaking roles of listener and speaker during play. …

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