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Good Day Class. As always, this is an exciting discussion for this  week's forum. Differently-abled people are just as much a vital piece of  society as regular people. In my opinion, differently-abled individuals  can enjoy meaningful and long-lasting relationships, just like those  outside of their community. Involving them in programs such as  volunteer-type events and the use of internet style relationships can  boost confidence, give them a sense of responsibility and value, and  also the opportunity to make new friends.  Now, this does not come  without its challenges. In Peggy Hutchison's article "A Qualitative  Study of the Friendships of People with Disabilities," she states,  "volunteer models which tend to reinforce the idea that the person with  the handicap only needs one friend and that volunteers, rather than real  friends" (Hutchinson, 1990). I believe that this idea of having  differently-abled people volunteering could be good and bad. I do see  and understand the point that Hutchison brings up, but I still feel that  they can even have self-value and self gratitude from volunteering  through a meaningful organization. With the Internet avenue of approach,  we have been discussing in this class how easy it is to communicate and  make friends over the web. It is no different for differently-abled  people, given the opportunity and the right tools, they too can browse  the web, making connections and possibly more meaningful relationships  than if they didn't have the internet.

While creating friendships with those who are differently-abled, you  need to take into account their limitations. These can consist of the  environment around you as well as their physical limitations due to  their disability. While taking these special considerations into  account, you need to think of how their disability will impact what you  are planning for them. If they are in a wheelchair, you need to ensure  the activity that you will be participating in is wheelchair accessible,  and they are able to be with the group and interact as if they are no  different. "There were difficulties with wheelchairs in science labs  with narrow spaces between the benches and students had to sit at the  end of rows or in the front. This reduced opportunities for natural  social interaction." (Ward 2010) Going off of this, if you are trying to  include them in a group project, but they cannot get to the table your  group is at, they are going to be excluded and have a rough time trying  to interact and work on the project with the rest of the group. In the  movie, Rory O'Shea Was Here, there are multiple examples of this. Still,  I believe the best one is where Rory is invited into a building, except  the building has stairs and is inaccessible with a wheelchair. This can  often happen at schools that do not have the correct ramps or chair  lifts. This furthers the point that there are limitations for  differently-abled people, and we as citizens have to respect this fact. 

Within my own experience with differently-abled people, I have not  had too much interaction with them or their community. I do, however,  remember a guy in my graduating class named Shane. We didn't know  precisely why he was the way he was, but that didn't matter. The  majority of the school made it a point to befriend him and allow him the  opportunity to have a semi-normal high school experience. It was  difficult at times because people did make fun of him, but those people  were quickly corrected. I think that this is important to remember  because differently-abled people are born with circumstances they can't  avoid, so it is our responsibility to protect them from people who would  try and capitalize on their condition. 

References 

  • Hutchison, P. (1990). “A qualitative study of the friendships of people with disabilities.” Ontario: Ontario Research Council on Leisure. Retrieved from http://docplayer.net/41736962-A-qualitative-study-of-the-friendships-of-people-with-disabilities.html
  • Ward, A. (2010). “When they don’t have to sit there they don’t.  They’ll go and sit somewhere else.” Students with disabilities talk  about barriers to friendship. Kairaranga, 11(1), 22-28. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ925403
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