Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Aiding Friendships

01/07/2016 | Published by: Kelly Mastin

Sometimes friendships seem challenging for our children with disabilities. The difficulty seems to increase if our child is nonverbal or more physically involved. As parents, we often must take a deliberate approach to help our child develop friendships. The following ideas will help get the creativity flowing.

Volunteer often in whatever your child enjoys and is active in. It’s a great way to meet kids who enjoy the same types of activities your child enjoys. By interacting, you can see which children are drawn to your child. Learn their names, meet their parents, and have conversations with them. Always include your child in the conversations and try to find out what things your child has in common with the other kids. You will notice naturally developing friendships that you can build on. Make note of these children and remember their names so you can talk to your child about them at home.

Make nice, age-appropriate “business cards” for your child to hand out to their classmates and friends. The cards can include your child’s name, phone number, and email address so their classmates can call and keep in touch if they want to. If your child is unable to hand out cards on their own, ask classmates or friends to help your child pass them out.

Host regular parties, play dates, and gatherings for classmates and friends. No need to wait for a birthday! It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or expensive. Here are a few ideas:

  • Purchase DIY (do-it-yourself) kits to make stuffed animals. These kits are usually inexpensive and involve stuffing the animal and either tying them closed or making a few easy stitches to close them up. Everyone leaves with a new stuffed friend. Many kids enjoy this activity.
  • Show a movie and serve hot dogs and popcorn. Even if your child isn’t able to eat these snacks, it can still be a fun time, and you can provide your child with different movie foods to enjoy. Be sure to have lots of pillows and comfortable seating to keep everyone having a great time.
  • Provide pots, planting soil, and flowers or seeds. Gather on the back porch or in the house on a vinyl tablecloth. Share trowels and shovels and gardening gloves. Everyone can create a fun pot to take home.
  • Provide all the tools and a variety of polish for a nail day. Let everyone paint their own nails, or take turns painting each other’s nails. Another idea is to invite a friend who is good at up-dos or makeup, and spend the afternoon creating fun hair styles  and makeup for everyone.
  • Purchase canvases, paint and brushes and let everyone create their own masterpiece. Aprons, smocks, or big button-up dress shirts might be useful for protecting clothes.
  • Invite kids over for a gaming party. Several TVs and lots of controllers make this an extra fun time.

The sky is the limit!  For more ideas, check out our page on After School Activities and Programs for Students with Disabilities.