The current pilot study examines pre-schooler’s play behaviour involving dolls with and without facial characteristics of Down syndrome over a period of 16 weeks. Play behaviours were categorized into one of 3 behavioural categories with predefined observational scoring grids: prosocial, antisocial, or neutral/no behaviour. Participants also individually received an adapted version of the Preschool Racial Attitude Measure, to assess inand outgroup attitudes of participants towards children with Down syndrome. Positive and negative attitudes and behaviours towards Down syndrome dolls were analysed over time with pre and post-measurements. Results showed that, whereas children showed negative behaviour towards the Down syndrome doll at the start of the experiment, this negative behaviour disappeared by the end of the experiment. Furthermore, children showed significantly more positive play behaviour during the experiment towards the Down syndrome dolls. The results of this pilot study indicate that playing with Down syndrome dolls at preschool age can potentially be used as a low cost, non-invasive prevention program to foster future positive behaviours towards Down syndrome, setting the stage for interactions with real children with Down syndrome in inclusive education. Implications for meeting the needs of children with Down syndrome and their peers in inclusive education are discussed.

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Keywords Attitude, down syndrome, exposure, inclusive education, play behaviour
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Journal European Journal of Special Needs Education
Schenk, J.A.M.M., Naber, F., Nederhand, M.L, Gawke, R., & Prinzie, P.J. (2019). Fostering Preschoolers Positive Behaviour and Attitude Towards Down Syndrome by Down Syndrome Doll Play. European Journal of Special Needs Education. Retrieved from