"He can't really play": An ethnographic study of sibling acceptance and interaction

Beth Harry, Monimalika Day, Faustina Quist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article reports the findings of a case study of sibling interaction between a young man with Down syndrome and his three brothers. The case study was conducted as part of a larger study of the social relationships of 10 students with moderate to severe disabilities. Data were collected by ethnographic interviews with family members and key personnel in the student's school and community, and by participant observation of a range of home, school, and community activities. Data from the case study of sibling relationships are compared to data on the target student's interactions with nonfamily peers. Findings indicate that, within the family context, a range of sibling roles and of activities for the target student seemed to compensate for the target student's limited participation in sibling play activities. Outside of the family, the need for peer facilitation and advocacy was essential for the target student to be included successfully. The discussion offers a consideration of how schools can foster a sense of belonging that will encourage peer accommodations without creating unrealistic demands on students, both with and without disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-299
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1998


  • Down syndrome
  • Ethnographic study
  • Siblings
  • Social relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of '"He can't really play": An ethnographic study of sibling acceptance and interaction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this