Typically developing children usually have little contact with children with disabilities. Consequently, their ideas and attitudes are like to be based on preconceptions and stereotypes. The extent to which these initial ideas and attitudes are modified by experience when typically developing children first spend time with children with disabilities, and how they affect the assimilation of experience, is an interesting question since this will influence the performance and motivation of typically developing children as peer partners in peer-mediated interventions. Typically developing children acted as peer play partners in an experiment testing the effect of peer training on the level of interaction with children with autism. Half of the peers received the training, the other half remaining untrained. Initial ideas about disability and children with disabilities were, as expected, stereotypical. Reported attitudes appeared to be those that the peers thought were expected of them, rather than reflecting genuine attitudes. After participation as peer-players, stereotypical ideas were largely replaced by more accurate concepts. Interestingly, honesty in reported attitudes seemed to increase after participation, although they still did not match actions in practice. These changes were the same in both trained and untrained peers—they did not depend on how successful the typically developing children were at interacting with the children with autism
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