When you are disabled making friends is really hard because a lot of people think they understand it so they ingore your challenges, try to cure you, or refuse to be friends with you because they think the cure is as simple as be more postive! When a disabled person tells you that we cannot be cured we are not being negative but it is the truth and it drives us mad when people tell us if we changed out mindset our chronic condition would go away because honestly if that was possible pain and disabilty would not be a thing since we would know how to solve it. I have always struggled to make and keep friends because all the judgement and shame you face when you are disabled. In this post I talk about my struggles with friendships and what I do now that has helped me build realtionships without judgement. The sad reality is people will judge you as a disabled person before even knowing and unfornately there is nothing you can do about it!
If you were to ask any kid what their favorite part of the day was they would probably tell you lunch because that is when you get to socialize with your friends. Well, that was probably my least favorite part of the day because most of my high school years I ate by myself. Whenever I tried to make friends people would see my disability, think I am lost, and not want to talk to me. Everyone assumed that because I was in a wheelchair I was weird and couldn’t speak for myself which was frustrating because it doesn’t work that way. A wheelchair is just an accessibility tool that gives a disabled person independence and does not affect our intelligence or ability to have a conversation so get past the chair because there are so many highly intelligent full-time wheelchair users that just want a chance. If it really bothers you that much then just ask because we would much rather you ask questions than be rude and stare at our assistive devices like it’s something you have never seen before because I assure you that you have. Disabled people are not a charity case and we don’t need you to feel sorry for us because our disabilities just make us different. Try to get to know them and then make a decision on whether or not you like them because you may find out that it’s a little bit different to be friends with a disabled person but not as scary as you may think. Disabled people keep their friends in the loop about what’s on with their disability so naturally, you will learn how to adapt so it won’t be that much different than what you have with your abled friends.
If you are struggling to find friends I highly encourage looking into something like blogging or starting a YouTube channel because it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. It gives you the opportunity to find like-minded people that have some understanding of what you’re going through because when you’re surrounded by people who don’t or have no interest in learning it can affect a disabled person’s mental health. I have made tons of friends with different conditions through my blog and although most people I interact with don’t have Spina Bifida we all do face significant challenges so no one is saying anything insensitive. Sometimes you just need a community that understands to some extent even if it’s only online because if you don’t have that you’ll drive yourself insane.
Making friends when you abled making friends can be hard but many abled don’t face discrimination which a sad reality many disabled just have to accept will happen. Disabled people shouldn’t have to accept the reality that the only friends we will ever have is online but unfornately that is a reality for most people because far too many abled people can’t get past our assistive devices. I want you to ask yourself do you determine who your abled friends are going to be by what outfit they are wearing? I would hope so why shutting disabled people just because they carry a few more things than abled people and may look a little bit different. Disabled people want friends just as much as abled people but unfortunately, we have to work twice as hard to get them because people are so focused on our disabilities that sometimes I wish I could get away with not telling people my disability just so I can be treated normally every once and a while. Next time you see a disabled person that looks kind of lonely then go up and have a conversation because there is a good chance they probably are and you could make their day just by being a good person and talking to them. Do you have a lot of friends as a disabled person or do you struggle? What has been your experience with making friends while being disabled?
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