Correlates of learning disabled students' social acceptance in mainstream classrooms

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Virginia Tech

The present study investigated the social status of learning disabled (LD) students among their non-LD peers and explored how their social acceptance related to personal attributes, behavioral characteristics, and social information processing. Subjects were 22 white, third through fifth grade LD students and 347 of their non-LD classmates. Results showed that on a play rating scale, but not on a peer nomination measure, the LD group was rated lower than non-LD students. In addition, more LD than non-LD students were found to be rejected; however, LD students were equally represented in the popular, neglected, and controversial sociometric status categories. LD students were also found to be less well known than controls. Acquaintance ratings correlated highly with friendship ratings and moderately with peer nominations, suggesting that being less well known was significantly related to being rated as an undesirable playmate.

Although LD students were perceived by peers as less physically attractive, less academically skilled, and less socially skilled, as a group, these findings appear to be clouded by the effects attributable to the low status LD children. Within the LD group, high social status children did not differ significantly from controls on dependent variables.

Multiple regression analyses showed that peer ratings of physical attractiveness were most predictive of peer nominations (multiple R square=.50), whereas athletic ability was found to predict 85% of the variance in friendship ratings. Social information processing deficits were not predictive of social acceptance. Results suggest that special skills or attributes appear to provide a boost needed for general social acceptance of LD students.