Sharing and social responses during mentally retarded children's play
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Sharing is an important skill which contributes to the social, verbal, cognitive and motor development of children. In this thesis, seven experiments were conducted to evaluate the effects of antecedent and training conditions on sharing of mentally retarded children. The aim of these experiments was to examine ways in which sharing and positive social behaviour could be facilitated. In Experiment 1, the effects of laboratory conditions were assessed with 62 mentally retarded boys. It was found that 56 participants did not share in this context. Experiment 2 was designed to compare the effects of laboratory versus classroom sessions on sharing and collateral behaviours. An alternating treatments design revealed no significant differences between conditions. Sharing remained at low levels for all participants. In Experiment 3, the effects of familiar versus novel play materials were compared in an alternating treatments design. Sharing and positive social responses occurred at low levels during both conditions. Experiment 4 involved the use of an alternating treatments design to investigate the effects of different numbers of play materials. Again, no socially significant differences were noted. Experiment 5 was designed to evaluate the effects of individual versus group reinforcement contingencies on sharing with mildly mentally retarded boys. The results showed that both contingencies substantially increased sharing, with the individual contingency producing slightly higher levels of sharing. Finally, Experiments 6 and 7 investigated the effects of say-do and do-say correspondence training procedures, respectively. A changing criterion design was employed in both experiments to assess the effects of intervention on sharing and social behaviours during play. Verbal sharing and physical sharing were trained separately. The results showed that both procedures were effective in facilitating sharing and social behaviours. Generalization occurred across settings and behaviours. In sum, these experiments demonstrated that antecedent conditions were ineffective in the facilitation of sharing, whereas consequent procedures had marked effects. Theoretical explanations regarding the efficacy of the training procedures and implications for mentally retarded children were discussed.