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Building Strong Relationships

Written by MADDELINE THOMAS

Why is it hard to form relationships?

People with disabilities experience social barriers because people without disabilities are scared to communicate with them. It starts when children with disabilities get pulled away from their peers. Children with and without disabilities do not know how to connect. The barrier continues when they become adults. People feel uncomfortable being seen and impatient with people with disabilities because it affects their reputation. The solution is inclusion and embracing their strengths and social goals.

As a child, I did not know how to form relationships. I got frustrated because people showed impatience with me. I became popular a few times, but it slowly faded away because people stopped talking to me. I am very social and needed a different approach to engage with people. I felt lost not having strong relationships. I had to do a trial and error approach to find people who would accept and embrace me. I went through many people and had some disappointments. We did not form a good foundation to build relationships on and grew apart. It took a while to learn how to express myself and people did not let me in. I ended up finding people who naturally accepted me, and I could be myself with them.

Santana Row- San Jose, CA.

My success…

I decided to focus on building strong relationships with people. I found my best friends during my last two years of college through being involved on campus. As soon as we met, we knew that we wanted to be in each other’s lives.. They observed how I handle situations with my disabilities. They knew the nature of my disabilities before we started hanging out. They are easy-going, super supportive, patient, understanding, and sincere. We overcome challenges, and we push each other to be our best. My best friends support me in different ways and are strong individuals. We enjoy going to restaurants, campus events, parties, shops, parks, on walks and to movies.

Easter 2019

I met my first best friend in 2005, while we were in the fourth grade. We went to each other’s birthday parties and worked on school projects. We were not close in the beginning. We became best friends in our junior year of high school because we started to have similarities. We focused on academics and worked out doing Crossfit with our coach. My friend studied abroad for college, and we still talked a few times a week. We went on adventures and spent time together during her breaks. I visited her abroad. Throughout the years, we went to parties, restaurants, group discussions, beaches, karaoke, cities, malls, and on hikes. She’s experienced my journey since 2005, and she has supported me along the way.

Tips on Building Strong Relationships with People with Disabilities

People with disabilities should be admired for their personalities, characteristics, and abilities. Do not be judged by the covers of their books. Some relationships take time and extra effort. People without disabilities can build relationships with people with disabilities by volunteering and engaging in their communities. People without disabilities will miss out on unique, creative, and smart individuals. They need to be patient, and have an open mind. People with disabilities will surprise them and this will make people without disabilities grow too.

This post was originally published on Ms. Thomas’ blog, which can be found here.

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