What educational setting best facilitates the development of reciprocal social skills in preschool children with and without disabilities?
It was the purpose of this study to determine what educational setting best facilitates the development of reciprocal social skills in preschool children with and without disabilities. The students with special needs in this study are all diagnosed with moderate to severe disabilities, which includes various degrees of autism and levels of cognitive ability. The four environmental classroom settings studied for social interactions were: a) a segregated classroom, b) an inclusion classroom, c) a mainstream classroom, and d) a reverse mainstream classroom. There have been several studies investigating which environment is best for increasing social skills for special need students. Recent research has provided conflicting results. This study expanded on previous research analyzing the number and type of interactions of students. The results were derived from several data sources, including questionnaires from parents, and interviews of the school psychologist, specialists, principal, special education director, state preschool teachers, and teaching assistants. Out of the five types of interactions, four types of interactions increased for general education students outside the general educations setting. All five interactions increased for special education students outside of a segregated setting. Special education students' increase in average number of interactions occurred in reverse mainstream setting. General education students were equally divided in the increase of interactions between the reverse mainstream and the mainstream setting. Key Words: mainstream, reverse mainstream, segregated classroom, inclusion classroom and reciprocal social skills.