Making Friends with Cerebral Palsy: Online Networking Program

online networking and friendships for developmentally disabled individualsThe experts agree: learning how to make and maintain friendships is essential to young adults, especially those who have a developmental disability. It can be a challenge to get out and learn about making friends with cerebral palsy or autism, but it can pay off big time in ways that you might not expect. Teaching young children how to make friends is easier than encouraging young adults who don’t have a lot of social experience to get out there and meet new people. However, All Friends Network is growing a group of members to participate in online networking programs and real life networking events, all with the purpose of overcoming these challenges of young adult friends and developmental disabilities.

Benefits of Social Participation

One study that was published back in 2010 revealed that youths with cerebral palsy who participated in real life networking events, community gatherings, and other opportunities, were more likely to develop friendships, improve their own self-concept, and add new layers of meaning to their lives. The study involved more than 200 young people, ages 13 to 21 years of age, who had cerebral palsy and were classified in the GMFCS levels I-V, as well as their parents. This idea was based on the reports that youths with cerebral palsy were more likely to participate in leisure activities at home and were less likely to have real world social experiences and make friends with others without disabilities.

While relationships with close family and making friends with others in the community who share similar disabilities and backgrounds are essential, the study discovered that young people who participated in real life networking events were more prepared for adult life. For the purpose of this study, the activities of adult life were defined as getting a job, marriage, social recreation, and independence. The activities that the researchers found provided the most benefit included leisure activities that extended to new social networks outside of people involved in home or school routines. These experiences helped the young people develop the life skills they need to fulfill their roles as adults, leading to greater independence and self-esteem.

Challenges of Young Adult Friendships

The degree of gross motor function, autism, and other developmental concerns can impact the individual’s ability in making friends with cerebral palsy, as well as those who do not share similar disabilities. Inability to participate in physical activities or concerns about speech and communication skills were also prohibitive for some. However, even those who had advanced physical and speech limitations were able to participate in a variety of different activities. While male youth were drawn more to physical activities and events, females participated in more self-improvement and social activities. Encouraging individuals of all ages and genders to join online networking programs designed to provide resources, support, and access to real life networking events could lead to beneficial results.

While the point of the study was to encourage families with young children who have cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities to attend real life networking events and focus on making new friends outside of family and school, another interesting fact was discovered. The participants who had strong family relationships were involved in local community events – including family-centered activities – were more likely to be drawn to participating socially in friendships, activities, and events outside of the family and school circles. Early exposure to social activities with family support and encouragement is definitely beneficial in building a lifelong interest in making friends with cerebral palsy.

Join All Friends Network

The idea behind All Friends Network is to create a safe place for members to feel comfortable with meeting new people to build and nurture friendships. The mission is to help people of all ages, with a concentration of young adults, to participate in online networking programs and real life networking events. Individuals with autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities are invited, encouraged, and welcome to join. Our Live-LINK app is designed to connect all members and provide a safe, interactive, and fun networking opportunity. If you are interested in joining All Friends Network to focus on overcoming the challenges of young adult friendships, give us a call at 941-587-7172 or use our online contact form to reach out to one of our team members.