How to be a friend to someone with special needs?
In India, it’s becoming more and more common to see children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities on the road, movie theatres, parks, schools, colleges and workplace. As our country is becoming more inclusive of people with disabilities, we need to become more aware and know how to become their friend if and when we come in contact with them. Contrary to popular belief, people with special needs like to have friends and develop friendships with other people.
Below are some ways to becoming a friend to them:
- Reach out by saying hi- The people with special needs may not verbally be able to greet you but by simply waving at them they would definitely feel welcome and happy!
- Talk- Try conversing with them in simple and basic words. You can ask them what they like to do or what games they like to play or what shows they like to watch. They might not respond the way you expect them to but showing interest is the key to commence a beautiful friendship with them.
- Ask their likes and dislikes and engage with them- People with special needs would most usually convey what games they like to play or what songs they like to hear or sing. Try engaging with them by doing something they like along with them. This might give you a glimpse into their world.
- Make eye contact and observe- People with special needs may not look at you or may not be able to sustain eye contact with you but always look at them while communicating with them. Observation plays a crucial role in understanding the person that they are. It will show your interest and genuine care for them.
- Be patient through it all as you might take time to understand them as a person. No two people with a disability are the same. They might get angry, or get upset, or laugh loudly suddenly. It may take time to understand what triggers some of their behaviors and actions. Patience is the key to becoming a true friend to them.
- Treat the person the way that you would want to be treated- I think all of us have a special need, some more evident than ours. Remember they are just like us in many ways. Treat them with love, respect and care just the way you would for another friend in your community.