Friendship and Disability: Working Toward Independent Living

friendship and developmental disabilityLearning how to make and keep friendships is something that we all need more of in our lives. However, for people who have disabilities, including small children, young adults, and mature individuals, making and keeping friendships can be a challenge. While the benefits of friendship and disability can be seen in the confidence and growth of social skills in the individual who is able to achieve this goal, it can be frustrating learning who to trust and how to go about finding friends with cerebral palsy, autism, and other developmental disorders who can truly understand your point of view. This is what brings people together, a common interest, lifestyle, condition, or goal. While not all of your friends need to also be working on developing social ability, it can be helpful to find others who can assist you on your path to independent living and all of the advantages that can come from taking that first step.

Starting with Socialization

People who have special needs can oftentimes find it difficult to make friends and socialize with others. Whether they simply lack confidence or require support for developing social ability, communication skills or have additional disabilities and health considerations that prevent them from doing so, there are programs that can help. All Friends Network was created to help people with disabilities to communicate with others, find friends with cerebral palsy, autism, and other developmental disorders, and become more active in the real world. However, it all starts with socialization. This is a lifelong process of interacting with others that can help each individual become more confident and independent.

Isolation is a frequent side effect of having a developmental disorder, especially if no one is encouraging you to get out there and meet new people so you can experience friendships. A loving and supportive family is an excellent thing to have, but there is also something to be said for making friendships outside of the family circle. Unfortunately, those who have an impairment or disability are often not included in group activities, family outings, and other gatherings because their friends or even family members might not think that they can accommodate their physical challenges. Finding and making more opportunities to overcome issues with friendship and disability is essential in order to truly work on developing social ability.

Online and Real Life Events

All Friends Network is a nonprofit designed to connect young people with disabilities. Created by Trevor Kelliher, who has cerebral palsy, the network was created during the pandemic as a way to bring people together to overcome issues with friendship and disability. With programs developing and real-life events already planned and in place, this network and the free Live-LINK app that is associated with it can help those who want to work on developing social ability to make new friends with cerebral palsy, autism, and other developmental disabilities. The mission of All Friends Network is to help people of all ages, with a focus on young adults, to learn how to meet new friends and build lifelong friendships.

Program Spotlight: AFN Live-LINK
Our brand new All Friends Network (AFN) Live-LINK app is designed for our members to communicate with other members in the network through a safe and friendly space. It is our hope that many individuals will use this website and app to cultivate lifelong friendships and that the programs offered here will make it easier for them to work toward independent living and making friends with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. We are planning monthly events to focus on real-life gatherings and resources for developing social ability. Everyone should have a best friend!

Join AFN Live-LINK and the All Friends Network

If you are interested in learning more about the programs offered through the All Friends Network and the AFN Live-LINK app, contact our team directly by calling 941-587-7172 or by emailing us at You can also contact our team to talk about our programs and opportunities by using the Contact Form on our website. We look forward to hearing from you and are excited to have you join and become a part of our growing community.