Limited representation of individuals with disabilities in early childhood classes: alarming or status quo?

Paddy C. Favazza, Michaelene M. Ostrosky, Lori E. Meyer, Seon Yeong Yu, Chryso Mouzourou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


UNICEF’s new Millennium Development Goals and Beyond (2015. focus on the needs of the largest marginalised minority, individuals with disabilities, challenging us to examine issues related to exclusion and develop strategies for making an authentic sense of belonging and high-quality early childhood education a reality for over 93 million children with disabilities (United Nations Children’s Fund. 2006. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A first step in addressing stigma and the exclusion of individuals with disabilities is to examine materials in environments, given that positive representation in books and media contributes to a sense of belonging, increased self-esteem, and greater understanding of and attitudes towards others. Historically, the portrayal of individuals with disabilities in the literature and media has been absent or negative while the number of children with disabilities in early childhood classes has steadily increased. In this study, the representation of individuals with disabilities in school materials was examined in 32 kindergarten classes using the Inventory of Disability Representation (Favazza, P. C., and S. L. Odom. 1997. “Promoting Positive Attitudes of Kindergarten-Age Children Toward People with Disabilities.” Exceptional Children 63: 405–418). Two classrooms (6%) had moderate representation, 22 classrooms (69%) had low representation, and 8 classrooms (25%) had no representation of disabilities. Implications for practice and research are presented in light of the current focus on disability rights and becoming a more inclusive society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-666
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 3 2017


  • Individuals with disabilities
  • attitudes
  • inclusion
  • media
  • sense of belonging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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