Social Interactions and Social Relationships Between Children with and without Disabilities: Shifting the Focus
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This study is based on fieldwork carried out between October 1995 and December 1996 and has two dimensions. The first dimension reflects the study of social relationships between children with and without disabilities in the regular school setting. The second dimension reflects the process involved when moving from quantitative to qualitative research methodology. This research is presented as three case studies. The first is a behaviourist case study that utilised a peer-training intervention to improve social interactions and social relationships between a six year old boy labelled 'severely disabled' and his regular classroom peers. An increase in the number and length of interactions raised some important questions about the context of social relationships. Two qualitative observational case studies then followed, with the focus on social relationships, especially the structures and people that shape and influence them in the school setting. In the first of the qualitative case studies, the first and over-riding theme was the influence of the school structure. The second theme was the opportunities to interact available to the children in the classroom and the playground. The characteristics of the social interactions and relationships that I observed between a seven year old girl with a disability and her peers were the third theme. In the second qualitative case study three themes also emerged. The first was the role the school played in children's social relationships, the second was the opportunities available to the children to interact and the third theme was the characteristics of the social interactions and relationships that I observed between an eight year old girl with a disability and her peers.