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


  • © 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.

publication date

  • 2017