Classroom-based Social Skills Instruction for Severely Handicapped Preschool Children

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Social skills instruction has been a neglected aspect of educational programs for young severely handicapped children. This paper offers suggestions, drawn from a variety of research literatures, for building classroom-based social skills instructional programs. Important features of classroom programming included allotting a specific portion of the class schedule but also providing opportunities for generalization across the day. The differential effectiveness of play activities and materials for supporting social skill instruction are noted, and a post hoc analysis of a peer-mediated intervention that demonstrated treatment by activity effects is briefly described. A number of potential intructional target behaviors are identified and two forms of classroom instruction for promoting social skills are described. The advantages of using peers as instructional agents are highlighted and the importance of access to socially responsive, nonhandicapped peers for facilitating generalization of social skills for severely handicapped children is emphasized.

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