Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 167–189 | Cite as

General Education Participation Improves the Social Contacts and Friendship Networks of Students with Severe Disabilities

  • Craig H. Kennedy
  • Lisa Sharon Cushing
  • Tiina Itkonen


One desired outcome of inclusive education is the enhanced social development of students with disabilities. Some have suggested that planned and systematic support of students with severe disabilities in general education environments may lead to greater social interaction between these students and their peers without disabilities. In an effort to analyze this proposition, we studied two students with severe disabilities as they began participating in general education classrooms. Using within-student multiple baseline designs across class periods, the effects of participating in general education were studied across a range of social participation indicator variables. Our results suggest that planned and systematic efforts to include students with severe disabilities into general education courses can have positive effects on their social contacts and friendship networks. Our findings are discussed in relation to policy efforts to establish inclusive education in public schools, strategies for structuring general education participation, and the potential effects such efforts can have on the social inclusion of students with disabilities.

inclusive education social integration mainstreaming 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig H. Kennedy
    • 1
  • Lisa Sharon Cushing
    • 2
  • Tiina Itkonen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryMedical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann UniversityPittsburgh
  2. 2.Allegheny-Singer Research Institute, Neurosciences Research CenterPittsburgh
  3. 3.Santa Barbara County SchoolsSanta Barbara

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