Positive Perceptions of Children Toward Peers with Disabilities

A formal systematic review of research that examined perceptions of children toward their peers with disabilities revealed (a) familiarity with peers with disabilities (quality of relationship), (b) inclusive educational practices and curriculum that supported and encouraged inclusive practices, (c) schools with administration and teachers supporting inclusion, and (d) differentiation and interventions promoting positive social integration all increased positive perceptions. Successful inclusion of children with disabilities emphasizes and encourages a shift in thinking from separate and segregated educational settings to inclusive settings. Children with disabilities should be able to experience academic and social success and challenges without the burden of enduring prejudice or discrimination. Education for All Handicapped Children Act, 1975 (P.L.94-142) which has been reauthorized as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (P.L.107-110) is legislation that has mandated all student should have equal access to inclusive settings and to the same challenging curriculum. Students with disabilities should be able to access these without having to face prejudice and negative bias from their peers. What are the perceptions of children toward their peers with disabilities? Are they positive or negative? To shed light on how children with disabilities are being looked upon by their peers without disabilities a formal systematic review of research was carried out. These studies that examined the perceptions of children toward peers with disabilities were conducted in school settings that included students with and without disabilities either in the classroom or the school environment.