Sigstad (2017): The role of special education teachers in facilitating peer relationships among students with mild intellectual disabilities in lower secondary school
I: Journal of Intellectual Disabilities , Online first
Background: Students with intellectual disabilities may lack sufficiently developed skills to initiate qualitatively good social interactions; thus, they might be in need of assistance. This study examined special education teachers’ role in facilitating peer relationships among students with mild intellectual disabilities in a mainstream school context.
Materials and Methods: The study was based on qualitative semi-structured interviews with nine special education teachers who belong to special education groups in lower secondary schools. A thematic structural analysis was used to identify themes.
Results: The teachers made substantial efforts to promote social competence and ensure optimal conditions to foster peer interactions. An “academic-oriented” education, divergent attitudes, challenges in teacher collaboration, and organizational constraints may be barriers.
Conclusions: In a mainstream school, the role of special education teachers appears to be dependent on the basic values of the school management in terms of real opportunities to foster peer relationships among students with mild intellectual disabilities.