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ERIC Number: ED527190
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 264
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-8437-0
Same but Different: Exploring Young Children's Understandings about Disability
Mouzourou, Chryso
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The purpose of this study was to explore young children's understandings about their peers with disabilities as manifested in their daily interactions in classroom and school routines. Using an ecological perspective, children's expressed views about their peers with disabilities were also explored, to examine how these understandings are situated in the context of the children's schools and families. Ethnographic methods such as prolonged engagement in the field, development of rapport and empathy with participants, generation of descriptive data, and use of multiple data sources were used to explore children's lived experiences. Data generated from classroom observations, conversations with children, and children's artifacts illuminated these young participants' perspectives and stances towards peers with special needs and individuals with disabilities in general. Additionally, children's perspectives highlighted important issues that may help facilitate and support current and future inclusive practices. Information gathered through classroom and school observations as well as interviews with school professionals helped identify potential school practices that may shape children's understandings about peers with disabilities. Furthermore, information generated from children's parents shed light on how some of these children's understandings may be shaped. The findings of the study are presented as four major assertions that explain, characterize, and convey children's understandings about their peers with disabilities: (a) children use the language of friendship to identify and describe how they relate to each other, and this language includes the notion of "same but different" to talk about peers with disabilities; (b) interactions between children with and without disabilities can be characterized into different types: Proximal, inquisitive, reciprocal, advocating, mediated, helping, non-reciprocal, and unfriendly; (c) when children use the term special needs to identify and talk about their peers and other individuals with disabilities, they talk about it form a predominantly functionalist point of view; and (d) the way children speak about and behave towards their peers with disabilities is influenced by teacher and school professionals' comments and actions, classroom environment and school organization, and parents' comments. The ecological framework is revisited in the discussion as a way to address issues related to school and classroom organization and structure and how they affected children's relationships with and perspectives about peers with disabilities. Furthermore, study findings are linked with existing literature on children's perspectives about peers with disabilities, as well as literature from the field of disability studies Finally, implications for research and practice are discussed. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A