Date of Conferral







Phyllis LeDosquet


Despite increased inclusion of individuals with special needs in educational and leisure settings, people with disabilities continue to experience social isolation. Research indicates that negative attitudes play an important role in contributing to this marginalization. This study examined the impact of an inclusion program at a residential summer camp on the attitudes of its typical participants. Participants in the treatment group (n = 30) experienced contact with peers with disabilities through structured, intentional programming while participants in the control group (n = 77) experienced less formal inclusive encounters. The Chedoke-McMaster Attitudes toward Children with Handicaps (CATCH) scale was administered to the treatment and control groups at the beginning and end of the summer session. Research questions were designed to examine the impact of consistent and formal contact through inclusion on the attitudes of participants in the treatment group and to explore whether or not there was a differential impact of different types of contact on attitudes of typically developing children. Results from 1-time repeated measures ANOVA indicated that attitudes of participants in the treatment group did not change significantly during the session but that attitudes among the treatment group did improve significantly more than did the attitudes among the control group, F(1, 105) = 11, p = .001. Influenced by these results, program directors in educational and leisure settings might prioritize creating formal opportunities for contact between people with and without special needs, thereby decreasing social marginalization, increasing genuine integration, and promoting positive social change.