Friday, 15 August 2014

Life with friends is hard...a life without friends is tragic

Friendships can be difficult, for some our our children with special needs it can seem almost impossible.  Our children with special needs have unique barriers that make building friendships extremely hard.  As a parent it is our job to teach our children how to interact with others and having meaningful relationships.  It is also important for us to understand what we think a friendship.relationship should look like may not be the same as what our children need.

A few of my children have a very difficult time with relationships so we need to step in and assist them in learning these skills.

In order to make friends you need to be around people.  This can be a challenge if the majority of your child's time is spent at medical and therapy appointments.  It takes added effort ensuring your child has the time and opportunity to make friends.

Your child needs to be able to communicate with people to make friends.  Depending on your child's challenges this can be difficult, we have children with severe speech challenges so it has been important to give them the skills to communicate.  Our children use augmentative communication as a form of communicating but they need to feel confident with this method to communicate with peers.  Other children in our family have autism so role playing has been helpful in building communication skills.

The social skills of your child should be comparable to their potential friends.  Many children with special needs also have challenges with their social skills so it is important to work on these skills to broaden their friend pool.  We have used the Michelle Garcia, Social Thinking program to help teach our children these skills and have had them participate in social skills groups.  Being involved in activities and social situations also builds up these skills.

Your child's interests and physical abilities should be similar to their friends.  The 10 year old's in our neighborhood spend a lot of time outside riding bicycles and climbing trees, our daughter does not have the ability or strength for this which leaves her out.  Our 19 year old stills enjoys playing with dolls and the majority of her peers are going to college or out working.  When the interests and abilities are limited it may mean pushing the child and/or finding others with similar limitations. We had the children join some activities that helped match the abilities - for example our younger daughter joined a first aid group where they were all learning new skills and our older daughter joined Special Olympics which put them both in situations to meet potential friends.

The skills of being and making friends are just as important as walking, dressing and personal care so take the time to support your child in learning this valuable skill.


  1. It one of my big worries for my youngest son. His defensive and often angry approach to new people or even his acting over confident can all be very off putting for his peers. Whilst he has some friends I'm afraid that the gap between his social behaviour and that of his peers is growing. We have accessed a charity that put on holiday activities, where other children have learning difficulties and he does seem to cope well in this environment. Thank you for sharing your story and some good advice on #WASO

  2. This is so true! One of my kiddos has trouble making friends sometimes. I appreciate this post :)

  3. Friendship is so important to all kids. You've done a good job of finding activities where your kids can participate and make friends. Thanks for adding this to's Tuesday link up.