How Can I Build and Maintain Friendships When Socializing is Challenging Due to My Disability?


Thanks so much for your thoughtful question. Yes, it can feel challenging to make and keep friendships when you have a disability. I try to focus on some basics. 


There are some general principles about making friendships.  People tend to be friends with people who have similar life views and values; that is people like people who have similar interests and are engaged in similar activities.  Thus, people tend to make friends with people at church or who have the same hobby, those in similar endeavors such as schools, organizations and/or advocacy groups. Within those similar interests, it is easier to make friends if you are a part of a smaller group.  For instance, you might belong to a church but will more likely get to know people if you join church committees in which you work side-by-side with other members, the same is true if you join an advocacy group for those with similar differences.  Relationships take time and finding the correct group depends on what’s available in your community.  Don’t forget that one of the positive consequences of the COVID pandemic is that there are many online groups if transportation is a problem.    


I’ll tell you my experience but each of us have different differences with different challenges and live in different environments.  I’d like to hear from you and others about what opportunities are available to you and what was your experience in reaching out to make friends.


What I find is that making friends takes some patience until you find the right group and individuals. When I first try to join a group of people without visible or invisible differences, I find that they may initially respond to my difference and not to who I am and what I bring to the group.  This calls on me to realize that, with time, guts and perseverance things might change and they often do.