Smart Talkers:Talking about children's communication from Small Talk SLT: Will mainstreaming my child improve their social skills?
Studies at the University of Washington compare  the peer relations of preschool children with communication disorders to those of normally developing preschoolers and throw light on this complicated aspect. Children with communication disorders do not generally participate in group play as much as their peers and their social bids do not receive positive responses. Lastly, the children had to rate their peers based on who they would most rather play with.
There were some commonalities between the findings in the groups, but it was noted that children with communication disorders are involved less in active conversations, spend more time transitioning, have fewer positive social behaviors and are less successful in gaining the attention and support of their peers. This study is important to our understanding of Communication Disorders because it disproves the idea that mainstreaming these students will help to increase the quality of their social interactions. The Teeny Talker groups that we do are designed to encourage spoken language development in two year olds.
Having a family pet can be beneficial for child development in a number of ways, including keeping kids active and promoting empathy, self-esteem and a sense of responsibility. The researchers surveyed 70 families with autistic children between the ages of eight and 18, all of whom were patients at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. The study's lead author Gretchen Carlisle, a research fellow at the University of Missouri, observed that autistic children are were likely to engage socially in social situations where pets were present. Carlisle observed the strongest attachments between the children and small dogs, although parents also reported strong attachments between their children and other pets, such as cats and rabbits.
Carlisle's research joins a body of work demonstrating the benefits of animal interaction among autistic children.
Deficits in social skills among teens with ASD may result in students being ostracized and bullied by their classmates.

Surely if there are better role models to follow, this will help our language impaired children?
6 of the groups were specialized groups, where 3 of them had only children with diagnosed communication disorders and 3 had only normally developing children. Rather, it was important to note that the children with the weakest social skills will more often than not were at the periphery of group activity, regardless of their environment.
But dogs may be particularly beneficial for kids with autism, acting as a "social lubricant" that helps them build assertiveness and confidence in their interactions with others, according to new research from the University of Missouri.
Nearly 70 percent of the participating families had dogs, half had cats, and some owned other pets including fish, rodents, rabbits, reptiles and birds. While previous research has focused specially on the ways that dogs benefit the development of autistic children, Carlisle found that pets of any type were beneficial for the childrens' social skills. A 2013 review of studies found that specially trained dogs, horses and other animals can facilitate increased social interaction and improved communication among autistic children, as well as decreased stress and problem behavior.
Paradoxically, the new approach developed by researchers at the Koegel Autism Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara hinges on exploiting the unique strengths of teens with ASD – their high intelligence and very specific interests.Researchers discovered that focusing on these assets allows adolescents to be as capable as anyone else of forging strong friendships.
The other 6 groups were mainstreamed environments where 4 normally developing children were grouped with 2 children with communication disorders.
It was hypothesized that the children with communication disorders placed in mainstream groups would have different reactions than those in the specialized groups. Therefore, educators must understand that there needs to be a better solution than merely mainstreaming the students. But by involving themselves in an activity around the interest, they not only make friends but also become valued members of the group.
They were involved in preschool-like programs which included circle time, music, art, snack, story and 30 minutes of free play.

Both groups had similar rates of social interactions and this was explained by the variability among those with communication disorders. During free play the children were monitored based on the type of play they engaged in- solitary, parallel or group.
In the specialized groups, the children with the strongest social skills took the role of facilitating group involvement.
Rather than discourage their sometimes-obsessive interests, the researchers helped set up social clubs around them and invited students who do not have ASD to join.
The clubs provided a venue for the ASD students to display their special interests and abilities, and helped them engage with their peers in a more meaningful way.Koegel offered the example of a student with ASD who has a keen interest in computer graphics. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy.
His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

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