How would your loved one describe his or her relationships? Would the descriptions align with yours? The research study below sought to understand the social networks of adults with Down syndrome. They asked 27 adults with Down syndrome to describe their relationships and then asked their caregiver or “proxy.” The researchers found that the pairs did not always list the same people and did not always agree on how close the relationships were. 

The responses were plotted on a diagram of concentric circles that were divided into groups.

social networks


“Family members, on the other hand, often facilitate network building for the person with DS and tend to think about these networks in more functional ways (Roll & Bowers, 2019). People with DS, on the other hand, seem to think less about functions and more about emotional closeness. Thus, the person with DS is more likely to nominate friends and co-workers with whom they have an emotional connection. Their proxies are often unaware of these people or of their perceived closeness to the person with DS.”


The researchers give their reason for conducting this research:

“Given the vital importance of social networks for the health, integration and overall well-being of people with DS, it is important to get a better understanding of their social networks and the support they receive in the community.”

If you performed this task with your loved one, would you get similar results? Do you think this information is important? Should the study be replicated?

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 14 April 2020, can be found below and on the  Wiley Online Library site.


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