By: SoHyun Lee, SunYoung Yoo, and SunHi Bak
Friendship is a very important component in human lives, but it is difficult for children with disabilities to make friends with their typical peers. This study investigates the quality of play behaviors in friendships between children with and without disabilities and analyzes how normal peers perceive friendship with children with disabilities. Fifteen pairs of children with and without disabilities who chose each other as friends by sociometrics were selected in elementary regular classrooms. Fifteen pairs of children without disabilities and their normal friends were also selected. Each pair's play behaviors were observed for 30 minutes twice. Then children without disabilities were interviewed about their perception of friendship with their friends with disabilities. Results show that play role and positive/neutral affect of dyads without and with disabilities was different from dyads of normal peers. Children without disabilities perceived children with disabilities as playing mates, but they denoted limitations in communicating with their friends with disabilities, as well as behavior problems made it difficult to maintain friendship. Future research directions were discussed.