Influencing Peer Perceptions of Children With Disabilities in the Elementary School: How Can We Contribute in This Context.

Citation metadata

Date: Aug. 2020
Publisher: American Occupational Therapy Association
Document Type: Article
Length: 551 words

Document controls

Main content

Abstract :

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to measure student attitudes and perceptions of individuals with disabilities before and after receiving an intervenation to educate students about disabilities. Disability awareness interventions can improve children's knowledge about peers with disabilities and can be approached in many ways (Lindsay and Edwards, 2013). Disability awareness leads to positive attitudes between students and an inclusive society as well as a decrease in levels of bullying, which carries on throughout a child's lifetime (Moore & Nettelbeck, 2013). Better awareness of peers with disabilities in the school system allows for a positive classroom environment and learning experience for all children. Additionally, increased awareness provides the possibility of school systems to modify their curriculum to better suit individuals with disabilities. Novak and Barthelheim (2012) found that general education students felt an increase in the desire to work with peers with disabilities where cooperative learning conditions were present versus classrooms where competitive learning conditions existed. In classrooms where teachers did not encourage or teach positive interactions, students with disabilities reported experiencing teasing, prejudice, stereotyping, and even rejection (Novak & Barthelheim, 2012). DESIGN: A convenience sample of 54 firth grade students participated in the pre/post test study. Students were eligible to participate if their a parent/guardian completed an informed consent and the student complete an assent form. METHOD: The research was conducted in elementary school in the Shendoah Valley. The study was organized with a pretest-posttest design method. The CATCH assessment was administred utilizing a likert scale to ask about their current perceptions of students with disabilities. Activities from the Whitehorse Learning Disability Kit, were administered after the initial CATCH assessment questionnaire was completed. These activities educated the students about perceptions of individuals with disabilities. Following the activities, the CATCH assessment was readministered to analyze if student's perceptions of individuals with disabilities changed or remained the same. RESULTS: The Whitehorse Disability Kit led to a statistically significant change in the attitudes and perceptions of 54-fifth grade students towards peers with disabilities. Utilizing the Whitehorse Disability Kit along with interactive presentations and activities, student's average scores were higher from the pre to the post-test. CONCLUSION: Fifth grade is a pivotal time to educate individuals about what 'disability' means before the transition to middle school years. The participants were receptive to the four lessons and expressed increased understanding about disability. This research demonstrates not only the importance of incorporating disability awareness into the public school system curriculum, but also the feasibility of doing so. Students can develop a greater understanding that because an individual may not learn, talk, or look the same as them, it does not mean they are any less capable of participating in the same or similar occupations.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A631786970