The Unexpected Value and Benefits of Developing Social Skills

developing social skillsAs individuals, we can all be quite different; however, as humans, we all reap the benefits of social interaction. Not only does it feel good to spend time with friends, it also provides many unexpected benefits to our health and wellbeing. Developing social skills is time well spent. Studies that show a direct correlation between friendship and depression, overcoming obstacles, and even supporting independent living opportunities for young adults prove that it is worth every effort. Too much time spent alone can make anyone feel lonely, isolated, and out of touch – especially those in the disabled community. All Friends Network is a no-fee membership for anyone with autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities who wants to make friends and interact with others.

Friendship and Depression

Studies reveal that those who have lasting friendships are less likely to battle isolation-related depression. Friends encourage each other to get out and experience life, support each other in goals such as employment and independent living opportunities, and make life worth living. An afternoon or evening spent with friends can leave you feeling refreshed and good about yourself. When you find individuals that you can trust and enjoy a mutual feeling of goodwill, it is a positive experience for everyone involved. Developing social skills is an essential part of learning how to make friends, whether you are part of the disabled community or not. People of all ages and from all walks of life can have challenges when trying to make friends.

Healthcare experts and mental health studies show that socialization can provide positive energy and feelings that a solitary lifestyle cannot produce. Hanging out with friends can lighten your mood and has been proven to be good for brain health. Friendships promote a sense of belonging, safety, and security, reminding us that we are not alone. Having the ability to confide in others and be a confidant to your friends makes us stronger and bolder than we might be without a friend to lean on in our time of need. Recent studies show a direct connection between friendship and depression, as well as a lowered risk of developing dementia. Stressful and scary situations seem a lot less overwhelming when you have a friend to who you can talk about issues together.

Ways to Spend Time with Friends

Social interaction does not have to be a series of big events, gatherings, and meaningful conversations. It can be as simple as going on a short walk at the park, talking on the phone, or even video chatting with a friend. In-person connections are great, but they are not the only way to communicate effectively with others. Making friends within your local area, workplace, religious center, and community programs can be a great way to develop those building blocks necessary to foster lifelong friendships. Joining a group like All Friends Network can help to give you a safe space for learning how to communicate with others and explore independent living opportunities.

Participating in trips to the zoo, museums, or local aquarium, a planned pizza night, or a group outing to the movies is a great way for those who feel insecure or unsure about making friends to work on developing social skills. Consider extending those meetings outside of the planned events to include a meet at a local coffee shop, lunch at a favorite café, or buy tickets for a mutually-shared interest event to spend more one on one time talking and getting to know one another. Sporting events, music festivals, and even free local gatherings that focus on a hobby or interest that you share can be a great way to grow a friendship into something even more meaningful.

Serving the Developmentally Disabled Community

All Friends Network was created to assist individuals with autism, cerebral palsy, and other developmental disabilities to work on developing social skills and making friends. If you are interested in learning more about our resources, group events, and support, contact us directly by calling 941-587-7172. We can answer any questions you might have about All Friends Network or the AFN Live-Link app, as well as assist you in joining our no-fee membership program.