Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Family Science and Human Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Katia P. Goldfarb

Committee Member

Bradley van Eeden-Moorefield

Committee Member

Victoria Puig


Previous research focuses on the linguistic capacities of individuals with DS and how dual language exposure can hinder or support their cognitive development (Chapman & Hesketh, 2001; Kay-Raining Bird, et al., 2005), yet research regarding how an adult with Down syndrome (ADS) makes meaning of family within Latino bilingual homes, where the ADS is the primary perspective taken into account, is missing in the research. This study aims to provide the perspective of adults with Down syndrome since conversations and research about their development should include their opinion and thoughts, especially when there continues to be a push for English-only, in regard to the person with disabilities development (Guiberson, 2013a; Paradis, 2016). The research question that guided the study was: How does a Latino adult with Down syndrome make meaning of family, while growing up in a bilingual, Spanish-English speaking, home? Five adults with Down syndrome between the ages of 21 to 40 were interviewed, through 3 waves of semistructured interviews, where photographs were used to help with communication between the researcher and the participant. Through the lens of symbolic interactionism five main themes were derived: affection and love, companionship, being taken care of, cultural identity, and communication. Findings suggest that communication, verbal, non-verbal, and symbolic gestures, all built relationships, whereby making a strong familial connection was not contingent upon language usage, since a strong sense of family is embedded in the Latino Culture.

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