Student Research Paper
Research indicates that many students with special needs have greater difficulty mastering social skills than their typically-developing peers (Wiley & Silperstein, 2015). Strong social skills are critical to positive school and life outcomes for students, making social skills deficits even more alarming for children with disabilities (CASEL, 2019). This curriculum aims to foster empathy in students with special needs in kindergarten through grade two by providing direct instruction and practice in social skills. Specific social skills addressed in the curriculum include: naming feelings, greeting others, demonstrating active listening behaviors, and demonstrating sharing behaviors. Through children's books, role playing, and authentic learning opportunities, students learn and practice social skills that lay the foundation for later empathetic behavior. All activities within the curriculum work to support students’ generalization of skills, often another area of concern for students with special needs (McIntosh & McKay, 2008). Outcomes are measured through the use of parent and teacher questionnaires, teacher observations, and student self-assessments. Information collected through these assessments can be applied to further social skill instruction and opportunities for skill practice.
Niznansky, Kathryn, "Becoming Feelings Detectives: A Curriculum Designed to Build Empathy in Students with High- Incidence Disabilities" (2019). Education: Student Scholarship & Creative Works. 21.