Analysis of Socialization between Students with Mild Disabilities and Middle School Peers
2016-02-25T00:00:00Z (GMT) by
In many of today’s middle schools, students with disabilities are educated in the same classrooms alongside their typically developing peers. Although these inclusive classrooms provide a context for students to socialize and interact, the mere placement of students with disabilities in general education classrooms does not ensure they will be socially included or have meaningful opportunities to socialize with their peers without disabilities. The extent to which students with disabilities are socially included within and outside of school is, to a large extent, dependent upon whether students without disabilities make an effort to socialize with them. The primary purpose of this study was to better understand the factors that contribute to students’ intentions to socialize, as well as actual socializing behavior towards peers with mild/moderate disabilities. The sample consisted of 76 seventh grade students with and without disabilities from two middle schools in a suburban Midwestern city. Direct observations of students without disabilities positive social behavior towards students with and without disabilities, a student questionnaire and classroom context rating scale were utilized to understand associations between student attitudes, norms, efficacy, and behavior. The results revealed that students without disabilities’ views of their peers with disabilities and perceptions regarding socializing were uniformly positive. They also had great confidence in their ability to initiate socializing behaviors. Students’ intentions to initiate socializing behavior were also high. However, despite high stated intentions, observed behavior of students without disabilities towards students with mild disabilities was more variable. No associations were found between intentions and observed initiations. Implications for understanding the factors that contribute to students’ intentions to socialize, and socializing behavior towards students with disabilities, as well as suggestions for future research are presented.