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Personal and Social Development in Students with Special Needs

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

The table below lists the different types and characteristics of special need student and the suggested classroom strategies to help these children in an inclusive setting.

Category Characteristics You Might Observe Suggested Classroom Strategies
Students with specific cognitive or academic difficulties
  • Low self-esteem related to areas of academic difficulty (especially if a learning disability has not yet been diagnosed)
  • Greater susceptibility to peer pressure (for students with learning disabilities or ADHD)
  • Difficulty in perspective taking or accurately interpreting social situations (for some students with learning disabilities or ADHD)
  • In some cases, poor social skills and few friendships; tendency to act without considering possible consequences of one's actions (especially for students with ADHD)
  • Promote academic success (e.g., by providing extra scaffolding for classroom tasks).
  • Give students the opportunity to show off the things they do well.
  • Use induction to promote perspective taking (e.g., focus students' attention on how their behaviors have caused harm or distress to others).
  • Teach any missing social skills
Students with social or behavioral problems
  • Rejection by peers; few friendships
  • Limited emotional connectedness to others (for students with autism)
  • Difficulty in perspective taking and recognizing others' emotional states
  • Deficits in ability to interpret social cues (e.g., perceiving hostile intent in innocent interactions)
  • Poor social skills and social problem-solving ability; limited awareness of how inadequate one's social skills really are
  • Poor impulse control; difficulty controlling emotions
  • Less empathy for others
  • Explicitly teach social skills, provide opportunities for practice, and give feedback.
  • Establish and enforce firm rules regarding acceptable classroom behavior.
  • Label and praise appropriate behaviors.
  • Teach social problem-solving strategies (e.g., through mediation training; see Chapter 10).
  • Provide opportunities for students to make new friends (e.g., through structured and well-monitored cooperative learning activities).
  • Help students recognize the outward signs of various emotions.
  • Use induction to promote empathy and perspective taking.
Students with general delays in cognitive and social functioning
  • Generally low self-esteem
  • Social skills typical of younger children
  • Difficulty identifying and interpreting social cues
  • concrete, often preconventional ideas of right and wrong
  • Scaffold academic success.
  • Teach social skills, provide opportunities for practice, and give feedback.
  • Specify rules for classroom behavior in explicit, concrete terms.
  • Label and praise appropriate behaviors.
Students with physical or sensory challenges
  • Fewer friends and possible social isolation
  • Fewer opportunities for perspective taking and development of social skills
  • Maximize opportunities for students to interact with their classmates.
  • Assign buddies—classmates who can assist students with tasks they cannot perform themselves because of a disability.
  • Teach any missing social skills.
Students with advanced cognitive development
  • High self-esteem with regard to academic tasks (especially for males)
  • Above-average social development and emotional adjustment (although some extremely gifted students may have difficulty because they are so very different from their peers)
  • Conflicts between the need to demonstrate abilities and to gain peer acceptance (especially for females)
  • Greater perspective taking
  • More advanced moral reasoning for some students
  • Emergence of concerns about moral and ethical issues at a younger age than that of peers
  • Be sensitive to students' concerns about how their exceptional abilities may affect their relationships with classmates.
  • Engage students in conversations about ethical issues and moral dilemmas.
  • Involve students in projects that address social problems at a community, national, or international level.

Sources: Barkley, 1998; Beirne-Smith et al., 2002; Bierman et al., 1987; Cartledge & Milburn, 1995; Coie & Cillessen, 1993; Dempster & Corkill, 1999; Gresham & MacMillan, 1997; Grinberg & McLean-Heywood, 1999; P.L. Harris, 2006; Harter et al., 1998; Heward, 2006; Hobson, 2004; Juvonen & Weiner, 1993; Keogh & MacMillan, 1996; MacMaster, Donovan, & Macintyre, 2002; Marsh & Craven, 1997; Mercer & Pullen, 2005; Milch-Reich et al., 1999; Schonert-Reichl, 1993; Schumaker & Hazel, 1984; Shavinina & Ferrari, 2004; Turnbull et al., 2007; Winner, 1997; Wong, 1991 a; Zirpoli & Melloy, 2001.

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