Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > An investigation of social factors impacting children with and without disabilities

With the increasing trend to include children with disabilities in today's classrooms, educators need to be aware of the individual needs of these students both academically and socially. This study investigated the differences in social factors among third and fourth graders in a suburban school district. Students with disabilities (n = 128) were compared to their non-labeled peers (n = 1281) on the following variables: peer acceptance, victimization, bullying, reciprocal friendships, total self-concept, popularity self-concept, social selfefficacy, social outcome expectancy, and social anxiety. Children classified as having a disability included those with a Learning Disabled (LD), Other Health Impairment (OHI), Speech/Language Impairment (SLI), and Educable Mental Disability (EMD). Results demonstrated that when compared to their non-labeled peers, students with disabilities were more often nominated as "liked least," victimized, and bullying others and reported having fewer reciprocal friendships and a lower self-concept. Further analyses revealed that male students with disabilities were most likely to have low peer acceptance and be seen as bullies, especially those in minority groups. Among students with disabilities, boys with OHI were more often "liked least" and were viewed as bullies most often followed by students with LD. Students with LD were seen most often as victimized by their peers. Students with SLI reported having the most reciprocal friendships among all children studied and were seldom seen as bullies. Caucasian girls reported having the highest self-concept among students studied while boys in the minority reported the lowest self-concept scores. Female students in minority groups reported higher levels of social anxiety than their Caucasian peers. Among children classified as LD and OHI, being victimized and bullying others was found to significantly contribute to lower levels of peer acceptance. Among children with OHI, being victimized was found to contribute to a lower self-concept while bullying others was found to significantly contribute to a higher social self-efficacy. Implications for developing interventions to improve the socialization of children with disabilities are discussed.