Make Friends with Someone With a Disability

For many people, befriending a person with a disability can be intimidating. Why? Well, because it’s outside of their scope of experience – they have never made friends with anyone who has a disability. After all, getting outside of your comfort zone makes everyone uncomfortable.

However, the truth of the matter is there’s no need to stress about meeting people who have disabilities. They are people just like everyone else. And all people have one thing in common—they want people to love and understand them.

Do you have an opportunity to make friends with someone who has a disability? Here are some suggestions to help you build a lasting friendship.

Look at Them When You Speak to Them

Sometimes we are intimidated by people that are different from us. It might not be a conscious thing. One way this comes out is in lack of eye contact. If you are talking to someone with special needs, but you never make eye contact, it’s likely that they will pick up on your uneasiness – and this will make them feel uncomfortable, too.

Loosen Up

Our language is full of sayings that aren’t meant to be taken literally. For example, you may say “Let’s run over to McDonald’s real quick” but the person you’re talking to is in a wheelchair. Obviously you meant no harm – it’s just a figure of speech.

The fact is, meeting someone with a disability is just the same as meeting anyone else. If you take time to listen and get to know them, you’ll find out how much you have in common and you may even make a new friend.

Mario Cattabiani is the Director of Communications at Ross Feller Casey, LLP, a law firm in Philadelphia with many clients (and friends) who have special needs.