For a child with physical impairment making friends as he/she gets older (ages 7 – 12) can be really tough.
This can be a number of reasons such as:
- The other children becoming more active.
- The child’s physical limitations becoming more apparent.
Having a small social circle and maybe not having many activities outside of school can be really troubling for many disabled kids. It can also negatively impact their mental health as well.
So what can you do about it?
First of all, there are number of specialist sports/activities for disabled kids. There can be some travel involved but it can be very worth it.
See WheelPower and Cerebral Palsy Sport for some ideas.
The great thing about adaptive sport is that it can build your child’s self-confidence and give them a sense of what they can do. This is as well as giving them the opportunity to make friends inside those new groups.
There also some great new organisations such CP Teens UK, which was founded by a teen with CP is a great community for making friends in a safe environment.
Don’t Be Scared About Them Being Online
It can be scary for a parent, there child being online and while there are obvious dangers to it, there are also many positives to be found.
Such as this story – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/disability-47064773
It can be liberating particularly for those who might have severely restricted mobility.
You might worry that your child is too young or that they are spending too much time on a screen, but these are all things that you and your child need to work out together.
Why PAs Can Help Your Child Make Friends
Getting personal assistant/carer, can for some parents feel like extra added stress. as it is just something else to manage/ take care of.
However, since the switch to direct payments/personal budgets, there is ever greater flexibility, including many support services for users.
So what are personal budgets?
Direct Payments/Personal Budgets are where your local authority gives you money directly to employ and manage your child’s PAs.
Now as stated above you might be thinking that this just extra added hassle, but it can be the best thing in terms of getting your child out and engaged in activities.
This is because you have the control and you can choose person who fits with your child’s personality. They may have similar interests, be similar in terms of age and this gives your child the chance to have a ‘friend’.
Now it is important to explain to your (if they can understand) that the PA is fulfilling a role. But for many people having a PA is great way to build confidence, communication and social skills.
For Older Kids Who Want to Make Friends
There are now a number of charities and social enterprises that specifically cater for ‘older’ kids.
We know Yorkshire a bit better than other places so sorry for the Yorkshire centric examples but please do look in your own area – there will be something!
Dice Doncaster offer a range of events for adults with a disability and their friends – including accessible night club events.
Downs and Special Friends offer specialist events for young people with any kind of learning difficulty across West Yorks.
Stay Up Late – create opportunities for disabled people in the south of England to go out and enjoy gigs.