The social preferences of children who are typically developing toward peers with special needs in inclusive preschool classrooms were examined. Children with special needs received few positive playmate preference nominations, but not a significant number of negative nominations. Children were disliked if they were aggressive, irrespective of disability status. Interventions need to be focused on improving the social skills of children with special needs and teaching preschool age children who are typically developing to understand the behaviors of classmates with special needs.
This research was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Education and Rehabilitative Services through a postdoctoral training grant at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and in part by the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Special thanks are extended to E. Wayne Holden and E. Camilla Hyman, both affiliated with the University of Maryland School of Medicine, for their assistance with this project. Appreciation also is extended to Don Bailey, director of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, for his support of this research.