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ERIC Number: EJ830568
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Oct
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 13
ISSN: ISSN-0968-7912
Special at School but Lonely at Home: An Alternative Friendship Group for Adolescents with Down Syndrome
D'Haem, Jeanne
Down Syndrome Research and Practice, v12 n2 p107-111 Oct 2008
Friends play a significant role in mental and physical health; however, individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities, even those who are included in general education programmes, have not developed friendships as hoped. After a decade of inclusion and structured school programmes to facilitate friendships, many parents report that peer relationships end after school hours. This study compared the efficacy of school based friendship groups with a mixed age home based group. Specific methods to establish a successful friendship group are discussed. This study followed three friendship groups for five years. Two groups of six to eight general education students met with the target student twice a month during the school day; one group of mixed age participants met in the student's home. A counsellor facilitated all the groups. Parent and student concerns regarding friendships were informally assessed with interviews and observations. Observations and interviews confirmed that although peer interactions during school occurred they did not continue after school. Of the three students studied, only one had a relationship with a same-aged peer after four years of school facilitated groups. Two students had significant feelings of depression during high school. One student entered counselling. The home-based mixed age friendship group did result in significant friendships. The individual participated in two or three activities each month with friends from the group. School based friendship groups of adolescent peers were not successful in developing friendships for individuals with Down syndrome. When a multi-age group was conducted outside of the school, friendships formed and have continued for over two years. This article describes how and why parents and professionals should look beyond school based same age peer friendship groups and consider a community circle of mixed-age friends.
Down Syndrome Education International. The Sarah Duffen Centre, Belmont Street, Southsea, Hampshire, PO5 1NA, UK. Tel: +44-023-9285-5330; Fax: +44-023-9285-5320; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A