Friendships of children with disabilities in the home environment

Cheryl L. Geisthardt, Mary Jane Brotherson, Christine C. Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Friendships are a valued aspect of life. Understanding the family and home aspects of friendships can help special educators to develop a broader understanding of issues supporting friendships for young children with disabilities. In this exploratory study, family interviews and home observations were used to examine friendships of children with disabilities (3 to 10 years old) at home. Results suggest many children with disabilities spend limited time with friends or peers in the home environment. In this sample, children with the greatest amount of contact with friends had disabilities that were mainly physical in nature, while children with behavior problems and cognitive limitations were among the children who experienced the fewest peer interactions. Children living in isolated areas and/or off busy roads had more limited contact with friends than children residing in neighborhoods. Living in close proximity of other children, however, did not guarantee frequent peer interactions or friendships. Characteristics of the home and neighborhood and parents' roles in initiating and supervising friendships are examined. Implications for special educators are discussed for increasing opportunities for children with disabilities to interact with peers and develop friendships in their home and neighborhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-252
Number of pages18
JournalEducation and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


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