Mentor Tip: Friendships

Send this message to the mentors only.

Subject: Mentoring tips on friendships

Successful individuals with disabilities have a lot to say about the importance of having a positive social life. However, they sometimes face challenges in developing friendships. For example, here is a comment from a student who is blind:

  • Blind people face the particular challenge of not being able to walk up to someone with whom they would like to talk unless they hear their voice or the person introduces himself or herself. In the dining hall, for example, I always asked someone to help me find a seat, but that person would not necessarily know the people I liked to sit with, so it was a game of chance. Sometimes I met new people, sometimes I happened to sit next to good friends, and sometimes I was unable to join in the conversations around me. However, by making friends in certain interest groups and arranging to meet friends for a meal, I was able to keep in touch with the people I cared about.

Sometimes people with disabilities face attitudinal barriers, as pointed out by this student with a disability:

  • My disability gets in the way of getting friendly with some students, but they weren't worth knowing anyway. The others, who accepted me as an equal, were the ones I stuck with.

However, most people with disabilities find the same enjoyment with an active social life as others. As another student wrote:

  • Social life is imperative for your own sanity and for learning how to interact with people.

Reflect on these issues as we help teens in our e-community develop friendships.