Social interaction development among behaviorally handicapped preschool children: Research and educational implications

Document Type


Publication Date



Literature is reviewed that documents the effectiveness of a behavioral approach for increasing the social behaviors of behaviorally handicapped preschool children. However, this literature also suggests that reciprocal interaction between target subjects and significant others seldom generalized beyond treatment settings. The importance of developing positive, reciprocal interaction has been well documented. The results of observational studies suggest that with respect to both quantity and quality of interaction, the child creates his own social environment. For example, the passive, withdrawn child is the more frequent recipient of social rejection than is the more socially active child; the physically aggressive child receives more hostile social bids from peers than less aggressive youngsters; and, of course, the child who initiates positive interaction with peers tends to receive more positive social attention than less socially adept youngsters. Thus, children's behavior patterns tend to set the occasion for that kind of social approach by peers that validates, in a sense, their own approach to peers. If affective education for young handicapped children is to become a reality, additional research is necessary to identify those response patterns that set the occasion for positive reciprocal interaction.