La Trobe
2016 Bigby Craig intentional friendship JIDD.pdf (1.1 MB)

A case study of an intentional friendship between a volunteer and adult with severe intellectual disability: “My life is a lot richer!”

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-11-11, 05:39 authored by Christine BigbyChristine Bigby, D Craig
© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Background Friendships between people with and without intellectual disability remain elusive. Little is known about factors that support the development of such friendships and what services can do to promote the likelihood that contact will develop into friendship. Method A case study approach was used to explore the qualities and development of a long-term friendship between 2 women, 1 of whom has severe intellectual disability. Qualitative methods of data collection and analysis were used including interviews and field notes from participant observation. Findings The relationship progressed through 3 stages of introduction, consolidation, and autonomy supported by the working practices and culture of the disability support organisation. Individualised activity, the role of a connector, and a culture of positive expectations underpinned the growth of the friendship. Conclusions Friendships do not happen by chance but require thought, attention, dedicated resources, and commitment to long-term outcomes to be achieved.


This research was supported by an inner-city day support service for people with intellectual disability. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the disability support organisation who commissioned the research. No restrictions have been placed on free access to or publication of the research data.


Publication Date



Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability






10p. (p. 180-189)


Taylor and Francis



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