Tips for Socializing if You Have a Disability
Whether as youths, adults, or seniors, people with disabilities or special needs find it difficult to engage in many activities that would otherwise allow them to interact with other people. It can be easy to feel left out because you don’t think you can participate in the same things non-disabled people “typically’ do for fun. But at the same time, it’s important to recognize that many of the things holding you back from socializing are mental, and can be overcome. If you have a disability and want to know how to socialize better, here are a few tips:
1. Understand your limitations, but don’t let them hold you back.
If you have a physical disability, you may not be able to necessarily participate in sports the same way as others, or go hiking or dancing without having to make special preparations. But at the same time, don’t let that hold you back from the things you can do – like finding another way to play your favorite sport, or meeting new people at an activity that doesn’t require a lot of physical activity.
2. Build your socializing experience around activities.
The best way to build relationships with people is around shared interests, and this stands true for those with disabilities as well as those without. If you want to socialize, try doing something you love, whether that be volunteering, taking a cooking class, or touring a museum. That way you can talk to people who are interested in the same thing you’re doing, and have a conversation starter if you’re unsure where to begin.
3. Answer questions if people genuinely have them.
If people that you talk to are curious about your disability, take time to answer their questions, as long as they are being respectful about it and show a genuine interest in understanding you and your perspective. This will help facilitate easier and more natural conversation that you can both be comfortable with.
4. Look for special mixers in your area.
If your area has mixers specially for people with disabilities, consider going to one. You may be surprised at who you meet there, and you don’t need to feel like you disability is your identifying marker, either – have a conversation with someone without thinking about how you are different.