Improving Attitudes toward the Disabled: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Direct Contact Versus Kids-on-the-Block
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Social interaction between able-bodied and disabled children (as in a "buddy" program) is known to improve children's attitudes toward handicapped peers. This randomized-factorial-design study evaluated the relative impact of two interventions--a buddy program and the Kids-on-the-Block (KOB) puppet program--singly and in combination. Outcomes included measures of attitudes, familiarity with disabled schoolmates, self-esteem, and parental attitude. The buddy program appeared to be a successful intervention. The KOB program alone had no measurable impact on any outcomes, compared with control children. Surprisingly, the combination of KOB and buddy programs produced a significantly smaller impact than the buddy program alone. The combination was also marginally significantly poorer than the change experienced by the control group. These results are discussed in relation to the probable dissonance between real disabled children and the puppets. Suggestions are advanced for possible strategies to enhance interventions to teach social interactional skills to able-bodied children.
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