You might have heard the phrase, “use it or lose it,” with regard to certain skills and abilities. This is also true of learning how to overcome issues with friendship and disability. The more you are able to get out there, participate, and work on developing social skills, the easier it will become. Young adults with cerebral palsy only require opportunities to meet new people, make friends, and become more interactive in their lives. Learning how to participate is half the battle. Committing to getting out there on a regular basis, maintaining lifelong friendships, and having the confidence necessary to do it all is what is required to truly be successful in this area.
Learning How to Participate
Studies reveal that learning how to participate socially with individuals who are not family members can help youths and young adults with cerebral palsy to further develop friendships and meaningful relationships. Not only is it good for individuals to make friends, but many believe that the confidence that can come from developing social skills like these can lead to an expansion of participation in other activities, as well. Social gatherings, public events, and leisure activities with friends can help lay the necessary groundwork for more independent living. Friendship and disability do not have to be mutually exclusive, especially when so much support is now available both online and in real life.
Depending on the degree of your disability, you might even be able to participate in sports, physical activities, and other community recreational activities. For young adults, being able to get out in the world with friends is essential for developing self-confidence, personal identity and fostering a willingness to get more out of life. Learning how to participate can assist with a wide range of communication or speech problems, provided that strategic support and resources are available. Activity preferences and interests in participating outside the home can also play a significant role in young adults with cerebral palsy and those with developmental disabilities of all ages.
Why Participation Matters
With so many opportunities to make friends online and communicate via the internet, why does active participation matter to friendship and disability? Several different studies reveal that active participation, which includes involvement in real-life situations and represents an interaction between a person and their physical and social environments, creates the necessary pathways to uncovering more meaning in life. Learning how to participate can help the individual to learn how to form friendships, develop social skills, establish a self-concept, and add a more layered meaning to daily life and activities. While parental and family support is much desired and beneficial, making friends outside of the family and home can provide new advantages.
Finding other individuals who have similar disabilities or concerns about making friends can create an instant bond and offer encouragement and confidence for young adults with cerebral palsy. Social participation helps to prepare the individual for forming and maintaining social relationships, particularly when support is provided with opportunities and positive interactions with others. This reinforces the learning phase of understanding how social interactions work when the person is able to use them and see how they are applied in real life. Developing social skills is extremely beneficial to those with many different types of developmental disabilities and young adults who do not have a lot of experience making friendships on their own.
Real Friends Network
The primary goal of Real Friends Network (RFN) is to provide people of all ages, but in particular young adults with cerebral palsy, autism, and other developmental disabilities, with the opportunity, resources, and support necessary to make and maintain friendships. A positive, friendly, and supportive environment is key to being successful with learning how to participate and expand social abilities. In addition to website resources and our interactive AFN Live-LINK app for members, All Friends Network is also planning on holding monthly social events. We are currently working with vendors to get group discounts, making it affordable for everyone to participate. Tours at local museums and aquariums, pizza and movie nights, mini-golf outings, and other fun excursions are currently in the works. Join online or contact us directly by calling 941-587-7172.