The Quality of Friendship for People with Disabilities

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Abstract

Friendships are crucial for the well-being and social inclusion of individuals with disabilities. However, research has shown that their friendships are lower quality than typically developing peers. Perceptions of key stakeholders, like parents and teachers, can provide insights on this issue. Yet, these stakeholder groups have been mostly examined separately, with few direct comparisons. This study aimed to bridge this research gap by comparing perceptions of (202) parents and teachers toward friendship quality dimensions for individuals with disabilities, using a validated questionnaire. Descriptive analyses found both groups—parents and teachers—observed moderate levels specific to the dimensions of Safety, Closeness, Acceptance, and Help. However, cross-tabulations revealed parents gave significantly higher ratings than teachers across dimensions. Factors like disability type and available support may influence these differing viewpoints. The findings highlight the need for collaborative efforts between families and educators to gain a comprehensive understanding of relationship challenges for individuals with disabilities and identify areas for targeted interventions purposed to foster higher-quality friendships. As a result of the findings of the study, the researcher concluded by offering several suggestions for expanded advocacy and action plans, along with recommendations for future research.