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"A methods and procedures guide that everyone entering the field of early childhood special education should have."
With its comprehensive coverage of instruction and intervention practices in natural environments, this is the essential methods textbook for preservice educators and therapists preparing to work with young children who have disabilities. Focusing on children from birth to age 5, this text gives future professionals a wealth of specific, practical knowledge on a range of critical procedures for working with children effectively. Preservice practitioners will benefit from the features that set this book apart from other early intervention texts.
Excerpted from Chapter 12 of Young Children with Disabilities in Natural Environmentse: Methods and Procedures, by Mary Jo Noonan, Ph.D., & Linda McCormick, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2006 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The importance of peer-related social competence during early childhood is widely acknowledged. There is evidence that positive peer interactions are an important contributor to developmental progress and, conversely, that peer interaction problems are a primary predictor of children's future social competence difficulties (Brown, Odom, & Conroy, 2001; McWilliam et al., 2001).
Inclusive preschool environments have a decided advantage in promoting Peer-related social and communicative competence, (Bricker, 1995; Lipsky & Gartner, 1997; Peck, 1995; Strain, 1990, 1995, 1999). However, this advantage does not occur automatically by simply placing children with disabilities in inclusive settings. One study found that about one third of the children with disabilities in the inclusive setting were socially rejected by their peers without disabilities (Odom, Zercher, Li, Marquart, & Sandall, 1998).
Many children with disabilities lack the basic social skills requisite to positive peer interactions (Brown, Odom, Li, & Zercher, 1999). Many are withdrawn and hesitant to interact with peers. They appear socially aloof and unaware of the initiations or needs of peers, and do not seem to know how to get the attention of a peer, share, ask for assistance, or communicate positive feelings. Promoting friendships between these young children and their typically developing peers is a major goal of inclusive preschools. It is also the major challenge.
There is no agreed-on definition of what is entailed in friendship for young children but there are a few agreed-on markers (Danko & Buysse, 2002). The most important is reciprocity. Friendships are special relationships in which children have a strong desire to be near or play with one another. Interactions are voluntary, based on mutual affection or liking, and involve common interests and shared activities.
This chapter draws heavily from research describing intervention procedures to enhance the peer-related social competence and friendships of young children with disabilities in inclusive settings and social communication with peers (Brown et al., 2001; Hancock & Kaiser, 2002). The common focus of these procedures is on
HELPING CHILDREN BECOME MEMBERS OF GROUPS
Brown et al. (2001) described three classroom-wide or large-group-based interventions:
Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP)
Recall from Chapter 1 that DAP guidelines as set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) are guiding principles for quality early childhood programs (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). They are recognized as the standard for services for all young children. The DAP guidelines place a strong emphasis on the importance of environmental arrangements and procedures to facilitate and support social–communicative exchanges among children with and without disabilities. Routine activities and the way that space is arranged encourage active engagement and exploration with peers, and there are abundant opportunities for children with disabilities to interact with more competent peers. There also are well-planned learning/activity centers (e.g., manipulatives, pretend play, literacy, art
About the Authors
Foreword Mary Beth Bruder