Promoting Road Safety for Preadolescents with Mild Intellectual Disabilities: The Effect of Cognitive Style and the Role of Attention in the Identification of Safe and Dangerous Road-Crossing Sites
An important pedestrian skill that young people with intellectual disabilities (ID) find difficult is the ability to find a safe place to cross the road. Safe pedestrian behaviour relies on cognitive skills, including the ability to focus attention on the traffic environment and ignore irrelevant stimuli. The ability to narrow attention to those stimuli that are relevant to the performance of a given task and direct attention away from nonrelevant stimuli is considered to be a characteristic of optimal selective attention processing. It is well known that individuals with ID consistently demonstrate selective attentional deficiencies. Additionally, individual differences in cognitive style might provide a key variable in the explanation of pedestrian accidents by persons who are particularly at risk. The aims of the present study were to test (1) if there is a significant relationship between attention and identification of safe and dangerous road-crossing sites in preadolescents with ID and (2) the effect of field dependence-independence on their ability to identify safe road-crossing sites. Participants were 40 preadolescents with mild ID. Attention and field dependence-independence were assessed using the visual attention subtest of the Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment (Korkman et al., 1998) and the Children’s Embedded Figures Test (CEFT) (Karp & Konstandt, 1971), respectively. The 40 participants were subdivided into two groups, matched on IQ, using the Test of Non-Verbal Intelligence (TONI-2, 1990). The two groups differed significantly in mean score on the visual attention subtest and on the CEFT. Every participant was asked to select the “safe” and “unsafe” (dangerous) road-crossing sites. Multivariate analysis of variance showed that preadolescents with higher scores on both tests performed better than those who were more filed dependent and less attentive. Attention and cognitive style should be considered in the planning of road safety training for individuals with ID.
Keywords: Intellectual Disabilities, Attention, Cognitive Style, Road Safety
Dr. Anastasia Alevriadou
Assistant Professor, Department of Early Childhood Education