ERIC Number: ED356597
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993
Unlikely Alliances: Friendship & People with Developmental Disabilities.
O'Brien, John; O'Brien, Connie Lyle
This discussion of friendship in the lives of people with developmental disabilities raises questions which probe the nature of friendship, friendship between people with and without disabilities, and the special challenges involved in making and keeping friends. First, four dimensions of friendship are identified and discussed: (1) attraction (the "something" that draws friends to one another); (2) embodiment (the particular ways people physically enact friendship); (3) power (the extent and ways in which friends can make choices about their relationship); and (4) community (the social context of friendships). The frequency and quality of friendships between people with developmental disabilities are considered, as are the special problems of friendships between people with and without disabilities. Among problems mentioned in embodying friendships for people with developmental disabilities are the practical difficulties involved in going places easily and safely as well as the lack of personal funds. Personal challenges in extending the energy to make and keep friends are discussed, including a lack of confidence and maintenance of a protective shell. Issues of power, such as the negotiation of power differences, are also considered. Finally, friendship is considered as a way to human development and as a product of friends' conscious choice to situate themselves within a "community of resistance," which counters dominant social beliefs that devalue the community's members and their relationships and which contradicts the notion that friendship must be a purely private, exclusive, and one to one affair. (Contains 58 references.) (DB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Minnesota Univ., Minneapolis. Inst. on Community Integration.; National Inst. on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (ED/OSERS), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Syracuse Univ., NY. Center on Human Policy.; Responsive Systems Associates, Lithonia, GA.