Creating a community is an important part of life for everyone! Whether your community is made up of family; family and friends; roommates and friends; work family or more combinations; the community represents a support system for all the experiences life throws at you. Not to mention the improvements that could be had for mental and emotional wellbeing through friendships in your community.
When living with a disability, finding and maintaining the community that works for you or your loved one has the potential to bring unique challenges to overcome. Today, we wanted to share a few helpful pieces of advice and reminders to help you or your loved one continue to work on building the life you want to live.
Make an Effort to Meet People
This may sound obvious but it’s not always easy. Meeting new people can bring up a variety of emotions depending on the person. It’s important to recognize what those emotions are representing and work on different strategies that will either help comfort or dispel the negative emotion when these experiences come up. Look for activities that match with your interests, bring along a trusted friend or loved one, and don’t put expectations on yourself.
If you show up to the event or social gathering, and find that you or your loved one is beginning to feel overwhelmed or apprehensive then don’t force the situation. Count it as a win that the intention started out ready to try something new and plan to try again another day. Don’t stop the effort of meeting new people.
Practice with Peers and Family Members
Individuals who are shy and not sure of themselves in social settings may want to first practice with their peers and family members until they are comfortable getting to know other people. Adults with disabilities who live in group homes may find it beneficial to practice role-playing with their peers as if they are on an outing outside of their home.
Find People with Common Interests
Another way to have a social life with a disability is to find people who are interested in the same activities. This could be going to museums, seeing a movie, admiring art at a gallery, or spending the day at the beach. Once the individual finds people with common interests, they can easily start a conversation with the activity or activities they are participating in for the day.
Find Different Ways to Meet New People
People socialize in different ways and in various settings. Those who are independent enough to live alone may find it more difficult to socialize than those who live in a group home or assisted living facility. They can ask close friends and family members to give them ideas on how to socialize if they are not sure where to start.
Go on Local Outings Regularly
Going on local outings regularly can make it easier to socialize with others. If the individual lives in a group home or assisted living facility, ask what activities are available to do for the week. They can also look online to see what there is to see and do around the area.
Another way for an individual with a disability to maintain a social life is to get a part-time job. We offer job placement services that can help people with disabilities find and keep jobs that are near their home. You can earn extra money and meet new people at the same time.
Similar to finding a place to work, volunteering for local organizations doing a cause they believe in and contributing to their cause is another way to be social. This could be making calls to collect money for the organization, participating in clean-ups, and more. Volunteering is another great way to maintain a social life interacting with others who enjoy similar activities.
There are several ways to maintain a social life with disabilities. With some creativity and help from family members and friends, a person can find people to do fun activities with in no time. The constant practice and interaction with peers may help their comfortability with meeting others when out in the community.