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Experiences of Preschoolers with Severe Disabilities in an Inclusive Early Education Setting: A Qualitative Study

Mary Francis Hanline and Silvia M. Correa-Torres


Abstract: The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the social experiences of preschoolers with severe disabilities in an inclusive early education setting. Teachers, paraprofessionals, and peers were interviewed, and the children and adults were observed in daily routines of the preschool. Findings showed that social experiences with adults were primarily assistance/help and direction/teaching and was influenced by the characteristics of the children, learning objectives, and the activity in which the child participated. The peers expressed pleasure in interacting with and sensitivity toward the children with disabilities. Results also showed that three approaches were used to facilitate peer-peer interactions: the full participation of children in activities, modeling appropriate behaviors, and enlisting the help of the children without disabilities. Implications for future research and inclusive education are discussed.

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