the idea that all children, those who have disabilities and their typical
peers, who are socially engaged and share a sense of belonging in their
communities and classrooms are more successful at reaching academic goals. And
since children's attitudes towards
disabilities are formed in the preschool and early elementary years, these early years are
an ideal time for children to develop understanding of others and develop
positive social behaviors. Using
similarities awareness as a bridge to friendship, the
lessons and resources described in this website facilitate the development of
relationships among children in the pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade age
which is an optimal age range for building positive inclusive behaviors,
compassion and understanding.
"All people who know the student need to be involved in creatively
exploring opportunities and strategies for facilitating friendships throughout
the student's life. The role is shared by regular educators, teacher aides,
classmates, family members, special educators, therapists, counselors, and
community people who know the student well and are committed to [his]/her
long-term success and happiness (Schaffner & Buswell, p. 21)."
"[A] part of my vision is that researchers and practitioners will listen to
families and realize that isolated social skills are not equal to membership in
classroom and peer groups or social relationships and that we can change our
focus of assessment and intervention toward memberships and relationships
"Understanding children's need to create and maintain 'community' and
supporting their efforts at developing a peer culture are ... ways
practitioners can facilitate membership in the classroom. Practitioners must
assume full responsibility for creating a truly inclusive environment where
social equity, democracy, and humanity are deeply embedded within daily
classroom practices (Erwin & Guintini, 2000)."
Interventions that support interaction of children with and without
disabilities carried over into their school day through drawings, greetings in
the hallway, and play (Favazza, Phillipsen, & Kumar, 2000).
"Experiences working and playing together as equal partners are likely to
provide typically developing children with a better understanding of what it
means to have a disability and to promote positive attitudes toward classmates
with disabilities (Diamond & Huang, 2005)."
Young children's attitudes can positively change in a short time with
social-contact experiences and guided discussion (Favazza & Odom, 1997).
Active facilitation of social interactions was a theme found useful by
general education teachers to develop social relations between children with and
without disabilities (Salisbury, Gallucci, Palombaro, & Peck, 1995).
Positive behaviors and friendships develop between children with and
without disabilities with appropriate guidance from adults through answering
questions and modeling accepting behaviors (Odom, DeKlyen, & Jenkins, 1984).
"Children with and without disabilities may interact more frequently when
teachers are present. Teachers can redirect children and help them initiate and
maintain interactions with their peers with disabilities. For example,
commenting about similarities between children with and without disabilities ...
helps children focus on others' abilities (Diamond & Huang, 2005)."
"Although friendships must not be forced, positive relationships
need to be intentionally facilitated in order for students with and without
disabilities to get beyond the barriers and grow to know, respect, and
appreciate each other as individuals (Schaffner & Buswell, p. 11)."
"We must discuss similarities as well as differences as this is how
children are able to discover ways they are alike which helps build
relationships (Blaska, 2003)."
"We need to pay attention to the social ecology in which ...children spend
time, creating opportunities and providing support for them to be genuine
members and establish meaningful relationships (Schwartz, p. 126)."
"Friends influence problem-solving, achievement, and adjustment in school,
and schools affect children's opportunities to cultivate healthy friendships....
[Classroom] characteristics appear to affect opportunities for making friends and
the contexts in which friendships develop (Gifford-Smith & Brownell,
"[Friendship] facilitation ... is a process in which students with
disabilities are viewed in terms of their strengths and the contributions they
will make in relationships. The message is that all students are givers and receivers
and can develop mutual friendships (Schaffner & Buswell, p.
"To summarize, the fundamental principles of access, belongingness, and
opportunity seem to be met sufficiently only in the context of full
inclusion.... In addition, the importance of teachers taking responsibility to
help children with developmental disabilities and their peers learn to interact
with and relate to one another cannot be overstated. When these two conditions
are met, children with developmental disabilities, including autism, will
finally be receiving the opportunities they need and deserve to establish
friendships with their typically developing peers (Hurley-Geffner, p. 112).
"By allowing children to discuss their reactions to books and providing
additional background information about disabilities, a teacher could be in a
position to positively influence the attitudes children have toward their peers
with cognitive disabilities (Smith-D'Arezzo, 2003).
"What book discussions can add to a balance literacy program is an instructional
context for teaching social skills, discourse processes, literature response,
communication skills, critical thought processes, and the literary aspects of
literature (Wiebe Berry & Englert, 2005).
J. K. (2003). Using children's literature to learn about disabilities and
illness: for parents and professionals working with young children. (2nd
ed.). Troy, NY: Educator's International Press.
Diamond, K. E. & Huang, H. H. (2005).
"Preschoolers' ideas about disabilities," Infants and Young Children,
Erwin, E. J. & Guintini, M. (2000). "Inclusion and classroom membership
in early childhood," International Journal of Disability,
Development and Education, 47, 237-257.
Gifford-Smith, M.E. & Brownell, C. A. (2003). "Childhood peer
relationships: social acceptance, friendships, and peer networks," Journal
of School Psychology, 41, 235-284.
M. F. & Daley, S. (2002). "Mom, will Kaelie always have possibilities?"
Phi Delta Kappan, 84, 73-76.
Hurley-Geffner, C. M. (1998).
Friendships between children with and without developmental disabilities. In
Koegel, R. L. & Koegel, L. K. (Eds). Teaching children with autism:
strategies for initiating positive interactions and improving learning
opportunities. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
Odom, S. L., DeKlyen, M. and Jenkins, J. R. (1984). "Integrating
handicapped and nonhandicapped preschoolers:
developmental impact on the nonhandicapped Children,"
51, 1984, 41-49.
C. L., Gallucci, C., Palombaro, M. M., & Peck, C. A.
(1995). Strategies that
promote social relations among elementary students with and without disabilities
in inclusive schools. Exceptional
C. B., & Buswell, B.E. (1992). Connecting students: a guide to thoughtful
friendship facilitation for educators & families. Colorado Springs, CO:
PEAK Parent Center, Inc.
I. S. (2000). "Standing on the shoulders of giants: looking ahead to
facilitating membership and relationships for children with disabilities," Topics
in Early Childhood Special Education, 20, 123-128.
Smith-D'Arezzo, W.M. (2003).
"Diversity in children's literature: not just a black and white issue,"
Children's Literature in Education, 34(1),
Promoting Positive Images. In
Disability is Natural (pp. 555-576).
Colorado: BraveHeart Press.
Wiebe Berry, R. A., & Englert, C. S. (2005). "Designing conversation: book
discussions in a primary inclusion classroom," Learning Disability Quarterly,
to Celebrating All of Us homepage.
creators of this website.