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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2006 May;48(5):331-6.

Social adjustment of children with cerebral palsy in mainstream classes: peer perception.

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Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration, Quebec Rehabilitation Institute, Canada.


The aim of this study was to describe the social experience of children with cerebral palsy (CP) in mainstream classes in Canada and compare it with that of their classmates without disability. The CP group included 25 females and 35 males (mean age 10 y 5 mo [SD 0.95], range 10 y 4 mo-10 y 10 mo) diagnosed as having hemiplegia (n=44) or diplegia (n=16) and classified as Level I on the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS). Fifty-seven comparison children, born at term and without any motor and/or sensory impairment, were recruited from the classes of the children with CP during a school visit (mean age 10 y 3 mo, [SD 1.0], range 10 y-10 y 6 mo). They were matched to children with CP for sex, age, parents' education level, and family income. Social adjustment measures (social status, reciprocated friendships, social isolation, aggression, sociability/leadership, and verbal and/or physical victimization) were obtained by conducting a class-wide sociometric interview (n=943) in the classes of the children with CP. Findings showed that children with CP (specifically females with CP and irrespective of their type of disability) had fewer reciprocated friendships, exhibited fewer sociable/leadership behaviours, and were more isolated and victimized by their peers than their classmates without a disability. This seems to suggest that females and males with CP are perceived differently from their peers in a mainstreaming context. The discussion addresses the issue of age- and sex-related differences and provides avenues of intervention relating to personal and environmental factors that could facilitate or interfere with the social experience of children with CP in a mainstream environment.

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