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«by Ellen Marie Strickland A Research Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Science in Education Degree With a ...»

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Interviewing a student whose social skills are in question can be a helpful technique as well. Interviewing the student can make the researcher aware of the student’s own level of self-awareness concerning his or her social skill deficits. Through student interviews one can also explore the child’s willingness and motivation to learn necessary social skills. Student interviews also present the opportunity for the interviewer to conduct an on-site observation of the student. While conducting an interview one can observe such social skills as communication style, eye contact, and the ability to hold a conversation (Elksnin & Elksnin, 1998).

When deciding to conduct an interview, whether it is with a parent, teacher, counselor, or student, a researcher must be aware of time-constraints. Interviewing individuals can be very time consuming. Researchers must also recognize that interviewees may provide unreliable information. To avoid collecting unreliable information is it important to keep the interview as structured as possible (Elksnin & Elksnin, 1998).

A behavioral observation is another excellent way to gather information about a student’s social skill development. Behavioral observations directly determine if a

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a child interacting with his or her peer group allows an observer to compare one student’s social skills to another. Direct observation also allows a researcher see if the intervention that was implemented has improved the particular student’s social skills. While observing a child in his or her natural setting is useful, one must recognize that it takes a significant amount of time and is not useful when assessing a behavior that occurs infrequently (Elksnin & Elksnin, 1998).

Interventions Designed to Improve Social Skills Role-playing is a frequently used intervention when teaching social skills to students. It is especially useful when the researcher does not have ample time to do a complete observation or if the skill in question does not appear frequently. Role-playing is also helpful when the researcher wants to see how a child performs the skill, rather than how others perceive how the skill is preformed (Elksnin & Elksnin, 1998). Roleplaying in groups is a fun way to motivate students to practice skills is a safe setting that mimics social situations that students will likely come in contact with in the future.

Teaching social skills to students effectively can be done in several steps that allow school personnel to break the skill down, allowing children to master the skill. A study done by Hazel, Schumaker, Sherman, and Sheldon (1995) specified an effective method to teach social skills to students. This method first defines the social skill, which provides students with a clear-cut definition of the skill in question. Second, the skill is described. A description clearly explains the steps that are needed to correctly perform the skill and includes any verbal (what the student should say), nonverbal (what the student should do), and cognitive (what the student should think) steps that are necessary.

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student needs and should learn the skill. Using positive statements like “If I learn to control my temper at school I won’t get into fights, and students will want to play with me more.” There are several social skill curricula that are available for school personnel to implement in the classroom for both the elementary and secondary levels.

The fourth step of the Hazel et al. (1995) study specified the importance of describing the situation where students will use the social skill. Having students brainstorm where the skill can used appropriately is important if we expect children to put it to use. Encouraging and brainstorming common situations and settings is also a useful tool is determining when students should use the skill. For example, asking students to list situations when it would be a good idea to use “please” and “thank you.” The fifth and final step in the Hazel et al (1995) technique is to use role-playing strategies to help children apply their skills to familiar scenarios. It is helpful to let students make up their own role-playing situations to facilitate acquisition of the skill.

Furthermore, modeling the skill for students, guiding the student through the skill, providing feedback and letting the student practice the skill can enable students to put the skill into practice and will encourage students to use the skill on a regular basis.

While it is important to teach social skills in depth to students it is also important to teach problem-solving skills. Problem-solving skills can be described as defining problems, identifying possible solutions, selecting alternative solutions, predicting the outcome, and evaluating the outcome (D’Zurrilla & Goldfried, as cited in Elksnin & Elksnin, 1998). This above sequence for problem solving can be taught to children as young as preschool-age and can be the basis of a routine for children who have problems

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Roadblocks Associated with Acquiring Social Skills It is possible that failure to acquire social skills is not due to lack of knowledge by the student about appropriate social skills. Lack of social skills can be due to interfering behaviors. Interfering behaviors can be anything from high anxiety in social situations to attention or impulsivity problems that might interfere with social skill acquisition.





Interfering behaviors need to be addressed before school professionals begin to implement a social skill development program.

Lack of opportunity may also interfere with a student’s use of social skills because they might not have the opportunity to use them at regular intervals. If this is the reason for social skill deficiencies, educators must provide students with opportunities to use their skills. Cooperative learning, peer tutoring, and varying group activities will promote the usage of social skills on a daily basis, thus enabling students to develop the skills they need to function successfully in a social setting.

Lack of feedback can also effect the development of social skills, especially for students who have emotional and behavioral disorders like ADHD. Providing specific feedback about student’s social skills can facilitate change in future social situations.

Environmental cues should also be explored when children fail to acquire necessary social skills. Some children have the appropriate social skills, but don’t know the appropriate time and place to use them. Teaching students when to use skills is equally important as teaching students what social skills are. Lack of reinforcement can also effect the usage of social skills by children. Students with and without social deficits

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that are highly valued by peers, teachers, and parents should be highly reinforced when performed correctly (Elksnin & Elksnin, 1998).

Effects of ADHD on Social Skills It was stated earlier that approximately fifty percent of children identified with ADHD have social skill deficits and peer relationship problems (Dumas, 1998). Poor development of peer relationships has been a major predictor in future social adjustment problems and mental health problems in later life. Socialization problems, social incompetence, and peer rejection are directly linked to low self-esteem, depressed mood, and anti-social behavior in childhood and beyond (Robbins, 1966; cited in Dumas, 1998).

Peer adjustment problems involving children with ADHD have also shown to have detrimental effects on a child’s self-esteem (Wheeler & Carlson, 1994). Behavioral traits that accompany ADHD, such as poor impulse control, inattention to peers, and intrusiveness, put students with ADHD at-risk to develop social deficits. It seems that students with ADHD receive few, if any, positive peer nominations, such as “most liked,” yet receive a disproportionate number of nominations as “least liked” (Erhardt & Hinshaw, 1994; cited in Dumas, 1998).

In a study conducted by King and Young (1982; cited in Wheeler & Carlson,

1994) it was shown that students with ADHD are aware of their negative social status and their problems with social functioning. Another study conducted by Lahey (1982;

cited in Wheeler and Carlson, 1994) showed that students with ADHD consistently rated themselves as being more depressed, having lower self-esteem, being less popular and

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with ADHD also rated themselves has having more physical appearance concerns, anxiety, and general unhappiness compared to their non-disabled peers.

Another area that is of social concern with children who have ADHD is the affect ADHD related behaviors have on others. Evidence has shown that students with ADHD can cause negative behaviors in teachers and peers that interact with them. For example, students who are non-disabled may exert more controlling behavior on their peers, which in turn may escalate negative behaviors in students who have ADHD, thus leading to an overall more disruptive classroom. A study conducted by Campbell, Endman, and Bernfeld (1977; cited in Wheeler & Carlson, 1994) also showed negative interactions with teachers. Classrooms that contained students with ADHD had higher rates of negative teacher-child interactions among all students.

Children who have been identified as having ADHD also tend to be more disagreeable in nature and have more negative social interactions at school and at home.

Parents of children who have ADHD report that their child’s behavior often annoys others. The presence of aggression in child with ADHD can also negatively effect social interaction. It was reported by Clark, Cheyne, Cunningham, & Siegel (1988; cited in Dumas, 1998) that children identified as having ADHD tend to be more disruptive and domineering, as well as quicker to resort to aggressive behavior with peers.

Children who have been identified as having ADHD are at risk to develop many problems related to socially unacceptable behavior and social maladjustment, among other problems that accompany ADHD such as disruptive behavior disorders (conduct disorder), substance abuse, and academic underachievement (Dumas, 1998). A large

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and peer relationship deficits. Students with social deficits or social delays need to be identified and treated in order for these students to be successful in many social aspects of life (relationships, peers, employment). Schools are very social institutions, and as educators we need address the array of social issues that affect children with ADHD in order to improve the social functioning of these students. By addressing social skill deficits, educators can make school a more positive and friendly place for students with

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Summary of Chapter Two Chapter two begins by exploring the definition of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and what it means to be diagnosed with ADHD. It uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) definition as the main definition for this disorder. The DSM-IV’s (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) definition for ADHD is as follows: a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development. Some hyperactive, impulsive, and inattentive symptoms must be present before the age of seven in order for individuals to be diagnosed as having ADHD.

The second section of the review of literature addresses the causes of ADHD.

Although there is no one specific cause of ADHD, it is speculated that ADHD is caused by a biological brain dysfunction, but the exact cause is still unknown (Kauffman, 2000).

ADHD is also presumed to be genetic because it is more commonly found in the relatives of children who have the disorder.

Diagnosis and assessment of ADHD is also addressed in this section. Assessment of ADHD is usually done by medical personnel, but can include interviews of parents, children, and teachers, as well as observations done at the child’s school. It is important to get a complete assessment when dealing with ADHD so the parent and teacher can be

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This paper explores several common interventions used with children who are identified as having ADHD. The most common of the interventions is medication, yet also the most controversial. The use of medication for ADHD lessens symptoms in around ninety percent of children who have ADHD (Rosenhan & Seligman, 1995). The use of medication is controversial because of the medication’s unknown long-term effects and the possible negative side effects.

Other interventions for ADHD include behavior modification interventions such as teacher training and parent training, as well as cognitive strategy training for students who have ADHD. When using behavior modification techniques one must keep in mind that the program must motivate the child and be easy to implement. Behavior modification is not likely to work if it requires a lot work on the part of the teacher or parent.

The definition of acceptable social skills and the types of social skills are also addressed in the second half of the literature review. A clear definition is important when addressing social skills because social skills encompass so many aspects of an individual’s life. Examples of social skills are given to help clarify the different types of social skills that are experienced by children on a regular basis. Important reasons behind the necessity of developing acceptable social skills, such as peer acceptance, friendships, and less negative attention are stated to support the claim that social skills are important developmental milestones.

Ways to identify social skill deficits and social skill delays are also addressed in this paper, similarly to the way ADHD is identified. Social skills deficits are identified a

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System), parent, teacher and student interviews, and behavioral observations. Improving a child’s social skills are also addressed several ways. Intervention techniques include role-playing activities and teaching strategies. When addressing the social skill development of a child it is important to determine if lack of social skill is due to a performance deficit or a skill deficit before implementing an intervention.



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