I feel that there are many ways for persons who are differently abled to enjoy deep and meaningful friendships. I think you must understand that persons who are differently abled still require the same attributes and needs as those who are not. Hutchison’s research points out that some of the reasons why people with handicaps need or desire friendships are similar to those we all share, such as for intimacy, affection, and companionship. (Hutchison, 1990, p. 3) Furthermore, Ward (2010) agreed “that friendship and positive relationships are an important part of our lives and that it is a truism that people have a basic need to be valued, liked and respected by others, and to experience warm, reciprocal relationships” (p. 1). The real question we should be considering are how do people help facilitate and deep and meaningful relationships for people who are differently abled? By reading this week’s assignments I believe education and ensuring children and teachers understand that although we are not all created the same we all have those basic desires of friendship. By educating children to the challenges that differently abled persons face we can help develop a generation of human’s who have a better understanding and desire to develop deeper friendships which differently abled people when otherwise they may not. Of course this comes with challenges, factors such as the nature of one’s disability, the stigmatization surrounding their disability are just a few of these challenges. (Ward, 2010, p. 1) Additionally, according to Hutchison (2010) “Low expectations of family and professionals regarding the person’s need, interest or ability to have friends, especially non-disabled persons, make it difficult for friendships to develop” (p. 2).
When considering any special circumstances for having friendships with differently abled persons, I believe you have to have patience and understanding. You have to understand that you are not a caregiver by a friend, you want them to view you as such and in turn you want to view them as such. In the video, you saw how a young boy was able to increase his confidence around strangers based on the connection he made with his dog. (McIver, 2014) I think the same could hold true in a person to person friendship. I have had many friendships with differently abled persons, from my childhood a young boy suffered from several physical disabilities. My mother sat me down and educated me on his limitations. Have this understanding allowed me to see through his physical limitations and see him for the person he was. His physical disability didn’t define who he was and I did not let it define the friendship we shared. Much like the child in the video, he did not let his limitations physically limit him from sharing who he was with his pet, which led him to sharing his story with the world, both the story of who he is and the story of dog. (McIver, 2014) This was a tough topic for me to discuss. I have family members who a differently abled, I serve with fellow Soldiers who have children that are differently abled, there is a systematic breakdown in how we include differently abled persons into social society. It’s not enough to work to change and break down these indifference’s at home or in our communities, the real changes must be in the school settings where differently able persons spend many hours of their lives. Ward (2010) sums it up well “All the students valued their friendships; friendships were important in their lives. Their stories highlighted and endorsed the six frames of friendships and also identified a number of contextual factors in their schools that supported and/or created barriers to facilitating positive social interactions and relationships” (p. 4).
Hutchison, P. (1990). “A qualitative study of the friendships of people with disabilities.” Ontario: Ontario Research Council on Leisure. [PDF, File Size 54.5 KB] Retrieved from http://docplayer.net/41736962-A-qualitative-study-of-the-friendships-of-people-with-disabilities.htm
Ward, A. (2010). “When they don’t have to sit there they don’t. They’ll go and sit somewhere else.” Students with disabilities talk about barriers to friendship. Kairaranga, 11(1), 22-28. [PDF, File Size 116.66 KB] Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ925403
McIver, J. (2014, February 12). A Boy and His Dog. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIXoYHYEnkg