Social skills intervention in a residential summer camp setting for children with learning disabilities

Paul David O'Halloran, Fordham University


The study investigated the effects of direct social skills instruction in a mediated learning context on the social skills use, behavior, and the social information-processing skills of 94 children and adolescents with learning disabilities. The influence of self-concept on the acquisition and use of these skills was also investigated. Current theories and previous studies in the field have suggested that the direct instructional methodology in a contextual social environment is the most effective instructional strategy for children and adolescents with learning disabilities. Previous studies have called for further research in documenting the social functioning, the responsiveness to intervention, and the further classifying of subgroups of children with learning disabilities. These studies have also urged further research to determine what strategies are most effective in teaching social skills to this population. This study aimed to add to the literature in the field by addressing these calls. The study was conducted in a residential camp setting in the summer of 1995. Three instruments were employed to measure teacher-observed social skills, participant-perceived social skills, and the social information processing skills of the participants before and after intervention. Self-concept levels were measured before intervention. Participants received 10 social skills intervention sessions in small groups. Sessions occurred two times per week for the middle 5 weeks of the 7-week program. Data were analyzed using t tests. Several distinct findings emerged. Social information processing skills improved. In general, participants with high self-concept outperformed participants with low self-concept on social information processing. In addition, males with low self-concept and younger children, ages 8-13, with low self-concept also outperformed other groups on social information processing. No improved social skill use or behavioral changes were observed. It was concluded that the structure and positive mediated nature of the intervention supported growth. It was also concluded that cognitive awareness preceded actual observable behavioral change. Generalizability of the study is limited by the definition of high and low self-concept, small group sizes, and a large range in age. Future research is recommended to further investigate the influence of self-concept on the acquisition and use of social skills in this population.

Subject Area

Special education|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

O'Halloran, Paul David, "Social skills intervention in a residential summer camp setting for children with learning disabilities" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9631047.