Interactions of Behaviorally Handicapped Children: Functional Effects of Peer Social Initiations

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The two experiments described in this article represent an attempt to functionally analyze the effects of specific peer social initiations on the behavior of withdrawn, handicapped children. The following social approach behaviors were previously found to set the occasion for positive, reciprocal interaction among normally developing preschool children: play organizers, shares, and physical assists. In Experiment 1, a normally functioning preschool child was trained to emit these specific initiations toward three withdrawn preschool boys. Experiment 2 provides a systematic replication with two important modifications. First, the peer helper was himself behaviorally handicapped and had a history of negative interaction with peers. Also, the three target children were substantially more limited in their appropriate behavior repertoire than Experiment I children. Both intervention and maintenance/generalization data from the withdrawal of treatment design closely matched Experiment I outcomes with some qualifications.

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