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Developing social skills of a third grade asperger's syndrome student in the classroom

Polona Pirš (2018) Developing social skills of a third grade asperger's syndrome student in the classroom. MSc thesis.

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    Children with Asperger syndrome have deficits in social skills, which makes it impossible for them to be as successful in social situations as their peers. Targeted teaching of social skills help them understand what other children take for granted, which is an important contribution to improving the quality of their lives. Targeted teaching of social skills can take place in a group, e.g., in peer groups, or individually, e.g., as a part of additional specialist assistance aimed at overcoming the child's deficits. Targeted teaching presumes prior knowledge of the degree of development of single skills, and is followed by the preparation of activities aimed at improving the child's functioning using these skills. Targeted teaching consists of examining the understanding, and monitoring the degree of adoption of the skills that are taught. The purpose of such teaching is the acquisition of social skills to successfully operate in various social situations; the skills are acquired through pre-prepared activities, such as role playing, social stories, empathy toward another person, and others. When targeted teaching takes place within a group, such as a class, the involvement of classmates is the closest imitation of the kind of social environment in which a learner with Asperger syndrome will have to function independently. In this manner, the learner is enabled to practice in the social environment that needs to be adopted. This increases the possibilities for a successful adoption of concerned social skills. The purpose of this research was to test the program of developing social skills with a learner with Asperger syndrome in her class, and to determine the impact of this program on her classmates who also participated in the program. Treating people with Asperger syndrome is prevalently done individually, although this does not favor their social skills development. The case study of this research included one learner, aged eight, in her third grade of primary school. In the statement of special needs, the learner was defined as a child with autism spectrum disorders, i.e., a child with moderate deficits in social communication and social interaction, and a child with moderate deficits in behavior, interests, and activities (Asperger syndrome). By definition, social skills include social interaction, which is the reason why the entire third-grade class—a total of 21 pupils—was included in the program. The program was planned to take into account specific functioning characteristics of children with Asperger syndrome. Moreover, it was adapted to the level of development of the learner's social skills. The research also involved the learner's parents, the class teacher, as well as the special and rehabilitation teacher who carries out additional specialist assistance lessons with the learner. Prior to and after the program, the participants filled in an evaluation scale of functional social skills with which they defined the learner's management level of individual social skills. This helped acquire data on the social skills that the learner needs most assistance with. It also enabled recording changes in their management when the program was finished. The class cohesion was measured before and after the program using a sociometric method based on a two-dimensional sociometric classification system with limited choice sets. The test helped acquire information on the cohesion among learners (cohesion index), and the position of the learner with Asperger syndrome in the class (social status). The program encompassed 15 weekly meetings in the classroom and was based on targeted teaching of those social skills that the learner with Asperger syndrome needs most assistance with. The research was carried out on the basis of the social activities that proved to be effective for children with Asperger syndrome in the past by means of various approaches. At the end of the program, the assessors participated in an interview regarding any changes observed in the learner, and in the class (class teacher). The data obtained was statistically processed, and the results are presented with graphs and tables on the basis of hypotheses. A certain level of effectiveness was then attributed to the implemented program based on the results; however, it is impossible to determine that the program is unambiguously effective because this would imply that the social skills examined in this case were generalized to other settings. At the end of the program, positive changes were observed in the learner with Asperger syndrome in certain areas of social skills, and were marked on the scale by her parents and the special education teacher. In addition, the class teacher reported changes in social skills both in the student with Asperger syndrome and in her classmates. The class teacher also reported positive changes in the group dynamics, cooperation among learners, and their cohesion. The research has shown that introducing targeted teaching of social skills in class is sensible both for children with disabilities as well as for their peers. The program enables acquiring skills in a peer environment that is also the environment in which the acquired skills will be used. In addition, the program is also effective for children without major problems in social skills because their participation gives them insight into classmates who do face these problems. In the future, these children can regulate their functioning in such a way that they are more tolerant and understanding toward their classmates with problems in social skills.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: inclusion, learners with disabilities, Asperger syndrome, social skills, development of social skills
    Number of Pages: 97
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    doc. dr. Mojca Lipec StoparMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=12050761)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 5144
    Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2018 09:08
    Last Modified: 12 Jul 2018 09:08
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/5144

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