What happens after 3:00? Social relationships of adolescents with Down syndrome
Wroblewski, Rene Elizabeth
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Relationships with others are crucial for social, psychological, and physical well-being. These relationships help to define who we are. Social relationships of people with significant disabilities have been a topic of discussion and research for many years. What is missing from this research base is what we, as humans, find most important about social interactions that is, the essence of the interactions themselves. Additionally, most prior research on the social relationships of individuals with significant disabilities has studied the relationships of young children. Social relationships of adolescents with significant disabilities have been examined primarily through the use of quantitative research methods within the context of the classroom. The present study developed a multiple case study to examine the social relationships of individuals with significant disabilities outside of the parameters of the school day. Furthermore, the present study examined the social relationships between individuals with disabilities, while prior research studies have focused on the relationships between people with disabilities and their nondisabled peers. Four research questions regarding the social lives and interactions of adolescents with Down syndrome were addressed through participant observation and interviews. Steps were taken to assure informed consent by the participants' parents and assent by the participants. Strategies were utilized to increase the trustworthiness of the results. Findings indicate that participants participated in integrated, nonintegrated and semi-integrated social activities, gave and received various social supports and utilized humor in a variety of ways. Social arenas were created through interplay of the actions and characteristics of the participants and others in the social settings.