Future specialists' attitude towards persons with disabilities

General Information

Keywords: attitude, meanings, high-school students, attitudes towards disabled people

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

For citation: Sarapulova M.A. Future specialists' attitude towards persons with disabilities. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2006. Vol. 2, no. 5 (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)

A Part of Article

The problem of the attitude to the person with impaired development is one of actual problems in special pedagogy and psychology. According to L.S. Vygotsky’s opinion, any corporal lack — whether it is the blindness, deafness or congenital dementia — not only changes the person’s attitudes to the world, but first of all affects the attitudes with people. Even in the family there is exclusive, unusual, not the same attitude to the child with impaired development in comparison with other children. Change of the attitude to the child due to presence of biological defect and the resulting “feeling of little value“, L.S. Vygotsky has called the “social realization of defect“.

The basic directions of researches in this area are connected to studying the attitude of a society and the state to people with impaired development, the attitude to the child with impaired development in family, attitudes of peers, teachers, parents of usual children at mass school to the child with special educational needs who attends their class. At the same time the attitude of the future specialist to the person with impaired development at the same time is investigated insufficiently. The importance of the chosen theme is caused by the following moments.

1. Comprehension, enrichment of attitudes of the student — as the future expert — to people who have physical and mental deviations, readiness for study, reorganization of these attitudes promotes personal growth, self-knowledge, strengthens the development of his/her individuality and maturity.

2. The profession of the expert who works with people with impaired development is one of the “person — person” type. In trades of this type (such as a profession of the doctor, the psychologist, the teacher) the problem of comprehension by the expert of the own attitude to the person is important, in many respects determining a choice of the purposes, methods, means, criteria of success, and satisfaction of professional work.

3. Had been going him/herself through comprehension of the own attitude to people with the limited opportunities of health, the future expert can organize the work with teachers of mass school, parents, peers, to form among them the adequate, positive, accepting attitude to members of a society with impaired development more effectively.

We have undertaken an experimental research of perception’s character, estimation and categorization by students of the person with impaired, their attitude to existence of distinctions between people, to physical and mental features of person. We have assumed, that character of the attitude depends from cognitive complexity of the personal constructs’ system, causing the construction of multidimensional, varying image of this person and increase of alternative schemes of his perception and estimation.

The following techniques were used. The technique of the free description modified by us, that allowed to reveal the attributes which are inherent, by students’ opinion, to the person having mental and physical peculiarities. A technique “ the Unfinished sentences “ with the purpose to reveal features of the emotional and behavioral response of students to an image of the person with impaired development. The test of personal constructs of G. Kelly is directed on revealing of categorical structures of individual consciousness, cognitive complexity, flexibility of personal constructs’ system, causing character of perception, estimation and categorization students of themselves and other people.

The following characteristics of image of this person, most brightly reflecting the attitude to him were analyzed.

1. Closeness, community and unity of the person with impaired physical and mental development with other people. The idea about necessity to see in the abnormal child not only his/her peculiarities, but also features which pull him/her together with other children, is incorporated in L.S. Vygotsky’s works. He emphasized, that the abnormal child is the child first of all and in the second line, the especial child and that the broadest orientation to normal children should serve as an initial point of special pedagogics.

2. Positivity of an image. One of parameters of the students’ attitude to the person with impaired development is their overcoming typical for ordinary consciousness stereotyped, one-dimensional sight on this person only as carrier of illness impaired development, defects, lacks and a recognizing of presence at him safe fund, zones of success, and competence. L.S.Vygotsky emphasized, that the negative characteristic does not exhaust a positive originality of this child, it is necessary to develop those huge deposits and deep layers of mental health which are in the child, necessary to be guided less by lacks and illness, but more by on norm and on the health that was kept at him.

3. The characteristic of the personality of the person with impaired development.

155 students of faculty of special pedagogy and psychology of Irkutsk state pedagogical university took part in experiment. The following characteristics of the attitude of students to people with impaired development were revealed. The emphasis of difference of the person with psychophysiological infringements from other people, reference of this person to a category “not such, as all“. Orientation at perception of person with impaired development on attributes such as “illnesses, defects, lack“. The fact that this person has not only lacks and anomalies but also the safe fund, potential opportunities on which it is necessary to base in the to work of the expert, has noted insignificant amount of students. Prevalence of negative personal features in the image of the person with impaired development. Students mark a high degree of dependence of this person practically in all spheres of life activity, the opportunity to realize his/her special needs only with the constant help of other people. The quantity of definitions in which the students would assert, that under certain conditions (creation of equal opportunities, barrier-free environments, provision of availability of the information etc.) this person can be independent showing activity, and not just passively accepting the help from associates is insignificant.

At the analysis of emotional colouring peculiarities an image of the person with impaired development it was revealed that the majority of students from the first to the last year experience to this person such feelings, as pity, compassion and sympathy. Students of all years can compare themselves to these people. However, opposite to younger students, students of the fifth year specify, that dialogue with these people has forced them to think about philosophical problems (about meaning and values of life, about a place of the person in the world) to reconsider their habitual sight on the world.

On the basis of the specific features revealed in the study we have allocated types of the students’ attitude to people with impaired development. The negativistic type of the attitude is built on the enumeration of defects, lacks, and anomalies, of things that this person can’t do, not able and does not know. The image of the unfriendly, spiteful, aggressive, socially dangerous person, which can bring harm, is easy to reconstruct. Division of people on “we and they“, on — good (as carriers of natural norm) and another’s — bad (as something abnormal) is actual. It is emphasized, that he never can be as all the others. The image is painted by negative emotions: aversion, neglect, fear. The basic behavioral reaction is a desire to avoid dialogue and to isolate this person.

The compassionate type of the attitude. The deviation is perceived as depressing circumstance for the person, and for his/her family, and for a society. The image of the person as passive, inactive, helpless, unadapted, but at the same time mild, easygoing, open, susceptible, trustful, sympathetic is reconstructed. He/she is perceived as unfortunate, suffering, offended by all, deserted. He/she causes such feelings, as pity, sympathy, compassion, desire to assist and protect.

The students showing constructive type of the attitude, mark presence at this person of potential opportunities, zones of success, competence, positive personal features. The community closeness of this person both with all mankind and with the student him/herself is emphasized. Distinctions between people are perceived as features, which has each person. In descriptions individuality of each person, his/her unique private world is accentuated. The image of the person as active, strong, worthy not pity, but respect, capable to conduct the independent way of life, having all opportunities to take a significant place the life of society is drawn.

Among the students of all years the compassionate type of the attitude is prevailing. The quantity of the definitions referred to negativistic type, decreases to the fifth year almost on half. However there are no changes of quantity of the students showing constructive type of the attitude from the first to last year.

The research has confirmed the assumption that character of the attitude to people with impaired development depends on cognitive complexity, flexibility of personal constructs’ system, underlying students’ perception and estimation. Construction of a multivariate image of the person with impaired development presence of alternative circuits of his/her perception and estimation, acceptance of idea about a variety of forms of display of human individuality; the tolerant attitude to distinctions between people; a recognition of ambiguity, debatableness of a problem of the attitude to people with impaired development, an openness to other points of view is typical for students with cognitive complex system of personal constructs.

The work on formation at students of the personal-semantic attitude should consist of comprehension of the own attitude (revealing of motives, needs, values being sources of the attitude, comprehension of its consequences and meaning for life of these people and directly for the student, definition of fact to what degree the activity of the expert can be based on the given attitude), and also of cognitive complication, enrichment of personal constructs’ system, underlying students’ perception and estimation of the person with impaired development.

Information About the Authors

Maria A. Sarapulova, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Special Pedagogics at the Irkutsk State Pedagogical University, Irkutsk, Russia



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