For a grad school assignment I had to review an article on a subject of my choice.
Guralnick, M. J., Connor, R. T., Neville, B., & Hammond, M. A., (2006). Promoting the peer-related social development of young children with mild developmental delays: Effectiveness of a comprehensive intervention. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 336-356
Which was a 2 year longitudinal study examining the effects of intense, individualized social skills interventions on children with mild developmental delays. The 90 participants in the study all had a full scale IQ on the Wechsler of between 50 and 90. They were all between 48 and 78 months of age, all had a current IEP, their primary caretaker was a female, and they were all experiencing difficulties in peer-related social competence.
The study was based off of previous research which found that children with mild developmental delays:
•have difficulty with peer social interactions
• engage in more solitary play
•Do not exhibit developmentally appropriate problem-solving patterns
•More difficulty forming in-depth peer relationships
•Less accepted by peers
•More likely to have social isolation later in life
A possible cause of this is that children with mild developmental delays show difficulty with information-processing and working memory, which gives them difficulty tracking complex and rapidly changing social stimuli.
The study gave each participant a pretest. Based on the results of the pretest the study formed a team of the primary caretaker, the teacher, and a consultant to create clearly stated goals and objectives to meet each students' needs. The consultants then gave the caregivers highly structured scripts individualized to the child. These scripts used across social settings in three different social tasks. The scripts prompted caretakers to assist the child with organizing the salient events in each task.
The strategies the caretakers and the teachers used were:
•Pair students with compatible peers
•Select toys and activities of high interest
•Create circumstances to minimize conflicts
•Provide needed support and guidance from teachers and mothers
The study found that:
•Students with an IQ below 70 benefited the most from intervention plans
•Negative interactions with peers did not increase as compared to the control group
•Parallel-dramatic play remained stable, while it increased in the control group.
•Interventions prevented declines in social development
The implication to my research study, I believe, is that it is possible to use free choice time in kindergarten and preschool classrooms to guide play in order to promote social goals. By using the strategies sited by the article it is possible to positively impact a child's development of social skills. During a free choice time the child is selecting an activity for himself, which is already an activity of high interest. If the teacher can consider the children at the activity with the child, and alter the circumstances to minimize conflict, the teacher should be able to provide support and guidance for the student that will help him respond to the changing stimuli in a social situation by helping him organize the salient events of a social task.