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My disability affects everything I do because many things are physically challenging for me and I am not able to do certain activities in the same way as abled-bodied people. My friends are all disabled and it’s not because I have anything against being friends with abled-bodied people and I just relate to disabled people better than I do with someone without a disabled. When you do not have a disability and are friends with someone who may be disabled sometimes people struggle with finding activities that we can enjoy that are not barriers. The activities you do with your disabled friends can change depending on what disability you have because not everyone has the same ability and even though shopping at the mall works for one person it doesn’t mean everyone will enjoy that activity. If you are struggling with finding an enjoyable activity that you can do with your disabled friends here are a few things I do.
Get some coffee or have lunch- I don’t see my friends often because neither of us can drive and often we have to coordinate our schedules with our caregivers which is more difficult to plan than you think. I sometimes can go up to a year or more without seeing my friends because sometimes one or both of us get busy and there isn’t a lot of time to hang out. When I do finally get to see my friends I don’t always want to do anything and sometimes we just want to chat and catch up. Most disabled people are able to go to a coffee shop or have lunch without difficult but even it was a little hard to carry a cup of coffee on your own often you are not with someone who has your exact same ability who will be able to help you with things that you may struggle with. Chatting with your friends and having coffee is the perfect activity for disabled people because it doesn’t require you to do a whole lot and most people can do it with very minimal assistance or none at all.
FaceTime your friends- The one thing that may not know about me from reading my tweets or any of my blog posts is that I have not seen any of my friends since before Covid because they are considered high risk and do not feel safe hanging out with anyone. I hate not being able to hang out with my friends and do hope that one day I will be able to see them again but even though I don’t like it I still respect their decision to isolate because I never want people to feel unsafe around me. Friendships change when you can’t see the person and it has been hard to maintain my friendships but we have made it work through texting and FaceTime. When you have to remain distant from your friends it shouldn’t be an excuse to not talk to your friends because text can go a long way. You don’t even have to send long-drawn out stories to your friends and sometimes people just want to know you are thinking about them!
Go to Disney World- If you live in Florida and have never had the Disney experience you seriously need to go because everyone needs the Disney experience! Disney World is expensive and may not be an option for all disabled people because many of us live in poverty and have to put every dime we earn into medical expenses. Themes parks such as Disney is not something you would do often unless you have passes but it’s something fun to do to celebrate big life events! I love Disney because it’s fun but also because it’s the most accessible park out of all of them and I don’t face as many barriers.
Go shopping- If you were to ask me if I was interested in going to the mall or even the grocery store there is a change I’d say yes most of the time because I am a sucker for shopping! I don’t even need to spend any money and sometimes I just want to get out of the house because I don’t get out as much as abled-bodied people do. I also like to shop with my friends because it’s a good activity for wheelchairs user even though some stores do not understand the concept of what it means to be accessible or care. Shopping is a good activity for my friend Karly and I who have totally different disabilities because we can pick and choose want stores are most accessible for us and help each other out with things that the other person may struggle with. The mall is a great place to go and shop or sit in chat when your not in the mood to navigate inaccessible stores.
Invite them over- I have never invited my friends over to my house because my home is accessible for me but wouldn’t be for wheelchair user that can’t get out of their chairs easily. My friends have never been to my house but I have been to there’s because you can still hangout with someone even if your home is not the preferred place. When you are not feeling like spending money sometimes but want to see your friends sometimes the best option to to go to their house.
Some people struggle with finding activities to do with their disabled friend because often people think we are not capable of doing regular things but that is not always true. If you wanted someone to take a kick-boxing class with you I would not be a good person to ask because my disability limits those kinds of exercises. I can do most things in the same way as an abled-bodied person can but sometimes people don’t ask me to hang out because they assume I an unable. You should never assume someone’s ability because ninety percent of the time you will be wrong and when you don’t invite disabled people it will be seen as not being inclusive. If you are not sure what fun things you can do with your disabled friends just ask because you may be surprised with some of the things we say. Disabled people want to be invited things but often we aren’t because people think they know our disabilities better than we do. Talk to disabled people because sometimes it’s not about being able to do an activity but it’s knowing that someone was thinking about you. What are good activities to do with your disabled friends?