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The applicability of a functional approach to social competence in preschool children in need of special support
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work.
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of the thesis, with four empirical studies, was to test the applicability of a functional approach in investigating social competence of children in need of special support within the preschool context. The main theoretical framework was systems theory. Study I and II investigated preschool teachers’ definitions of children in need of special support and social competence respectively. Study III was a prevalence study investigating the number of children in need of special support based on traditional disability categories and functional difficulties. In study IV the social competence of children perceived to be in need of special support based on traditional categories and functional difficulties was compared using an observational method. The results in study I showed that teachers adopt either a child perspective or an organizational perspective in defining children in need of special support. The child perspective was related to a greater number of children in need of special support in the preschools, indicating that in preschools with several children in need of special support, teachers are more prone on seeing the needs of individual children, as opposed to the needs of the organisation. Study II found that teachers define social competence in young children in terms of intrapersonal skills, or as interpersonal relations. Study III found that the majority of children in need of special support are undiagnosed children with functional difficulties related to speech- and language and peer interaction. Study IV found similar profiles of social competence between diagnosed children and undiagnosed children perceived to be in need of special support. Overall, the results yielded support for adopting a functional approach in studying the social competence of children in need of special support.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet , 2010. , 92 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Psychology, ISSN 1651-1328 ; 18
Keyword [en]
Children in need of special support, disability, functional approach, preschool, systems theory
National Category
Psychology Social Sciences Social Sciences
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-9014ISBN: 978-91-7668-710-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-9014DiVA: diva2:284220
Public defence
2010-01-29, Omega, Mälardalens högskola, Högskoleplan 1, Västerås, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Pedagogisk verksamhet för små barn i behov av särskilt stöd i förskolan- generellt och specifikt, PEGS
Available from: 2010-01-05 Created: 2010-01-05 Last updated: 2011-04-27Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. "Special Support" in preschools in Sweden: preschool staff's definition of the construct
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Special Support" in preschools in Sweden: preschool staff's definition of the construct
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2010 (English)In: International journal of disability, development and education, ISSN 1034-912X, E-ISSN 1465-346X, Vol. 57, no 1, 43-57 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study investigates the definitions of the construct oyoung children in need of special supporto given by preschool staff in Sweden in 540 preschool units. The study has a mixed-methods design based on qualitative analysis of an open-ended question and quantitative analysis of questionnaire responses. The results reveal two general perspectives in definitions of the construct, a child perspective and an organisational perspective. Units with a child perspective had a higher proportion of children in need of special support, especially girls. The study highlights that the term ochildren in need of special supporto is partially socially constructed and is partially based on perceived child characteristics. The perceptions of what is considered to be a child in need of special support held by staff in a unit may impact on the services provided to children in need of special support.

Keyword
child perspective, preschool, organisational perspective, young children in need of special support
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15392 (URN)10.1080/10349120903537830 (DOI)000274552700004 ()
Available from: 2011-04-27 Created: 2011-04-27 Last updated: 2011-04-27Bibliographically approved
2. The construct of social competence: how preschool teachers define social competence in young children
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The construct of social competence: how preschool teachers define social competence in young children
2009 (English)In: International Journal of Early Childhood, ISSN 0020-7187, Vol. 41, no 1, 51-68 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Preschool teachers share their environment with young children on a daily basis and interventions promoting social competence are generally carried out in the preschool setting. The aim was to find out if and how preschool teachers’ definitions of social competence are related to factors in the preschool environment like: a) the number of children having problems related to social competence; b) the support provided to the children; and c) the preschool environment and current research definitions.Method: 481 preschools from 22 municipalities in Sweden participated. Data was analyzed using a mixed methods design in which a qualitative content analysis was followed by group comparisons using quantitative methods.Results: Preschool teachers defined social competence mainly as intrapersonal skills, or as interpersonal relations. The definitions of social competence were not related to the numbers of children having problems related to social skills or social competence in units, the amount of the support provided to the children or the preschool environment.Conclusion: Preschool teachers’ definitions of social competence are partly multidimensional, which implies that the interventions aimed at promoting children’s social skills and social competence also should be multidimensional. Preschool teachers’ definitions of social competence have little relevance to environmental factors, which indicate that social competence, as a construct is more dependent upon perceptions of the individual than on contextual factors.

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15395 (URN)10.1007/BF03168485 (DOI)
Available from: 2011-04-27 Created: 2011-04-27 Last updated: 2011-04-27Bibliographically approved
3. Preschool children in need of special support: prevalence of traditional disability categories and functional difficulties
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Preschool children in need of special support: prevalence of traditional disability categories and functional difficulties
2010 (English)In: Acta Paediatrica, ISSN 0803-5253, E-ISSN 1651-2227, Vol. 99, no 1, 131-134 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aim: To investigate the prevalence of children who are in need of special support in the total population of children attending preschools (CA 1-6) in two Swedish counties, and the functional problems exhibited by the children in relation to demographical and environmental factors in the preschool context. Method: Survey distributed to (N = 1138) preschools in two Swedish counties. Results: The majority of children perceived by preschool teachers and in need of special support were undiagnosed children with functional difficulties related to speech, language and interaction with peers. Conclusion: Undiagnosed and diagnosed children share the same type of difficulties. Thus, in estimating the prevalence of children in need of special support in a preschool context, traditional disability categories capture only a small proportion of the children experiencing difficulties. Therefore, a functional approach in studies of children in need of special support is recommended.

Keyword
Disability categories, Functional approach, Point prevalence, Preschool children, Special support
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15393 (URN)10.1111/j.1651-2227.2009.01494.x (DOI)000272565800032 ()
Available from: 2011-04-27 Created: 2011-04-27 Last updated: 2017-02-15Bibliographically approved
4. Observations of social competence of children in need of special support based on traditional disability categories versus a functional approach
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Observations of social competence of children in need of special support based on traditional disability categories versus a functional approach
2010 (English)In: Early Child Development and Care, ISSN 0300-4430, E-ISSN 1476-8275, Vol. 180, no 9, 1129-1142 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Traditional disability categories may reveal little of the functional characteristics and social competence of a child. Objective: To compare the social competence of typically developing children, children with established disabilities and undiagnosed children identified by a functional approach to be in need of special support. Methods: Observations were conducted during free play using the Child Observation in Preschools, COP. Results: The variables positive emotion, social emotional warmth, teacher rated engagement and verbal to other children significantly discriminated the three groups. In a discriminant analysis based on group membership only 68% of all cases were correctly classified. Conclusions: Difficulties in classifying undiagnosed children in need of special support and children with established disabilities leads to the question of the fruitfulness of using traditional categories when assessing social competence. Instead a functional approach sensitive to the individual profile of each child is recommended.

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-15394 (URN)10.1080/03004430902830297 (DOI)
Available from: 2011-04-27 Created: 2011-04-27 Last updated: 2011-04-27Bibliographically approved

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