The importance of friendship for people with disability
I won’t lie and say it’s great having a disability, because it isn’t. Sometimes it can be a barrier to maintaining friendships.
My name is Travis, I’m 26 and have been living with cerebral palsy all of my life. The hardest thing about having a disability isn’t not being able to walk, or not being able to do things by yourself. For me it’s about not being able to do things that everybody else can do – like hanging out with your friends.
It’s important for someone with a disability to maintain strong relationships because we need someone to talk to without feeling like we’re being judged. We also need friends that share and enjoy similar interests to our own. This is important for our mental health.
But having a disability can make it really hard to see your mates regularly. It isn’t always possible to get a support person available on a preferred date to meet up. And sometimes if you’re meeting up with your friends at a café or restaurant, the venue that your friends suggest to meet up at may not be accessible.
Since the NDIS has come in though I’m now able to pay for a support worker to assist me so I can see my friends more regularly.
Sometimes it can make you feel less human because you can’t do things that other people can without a support person, and its super frustrating. But I have some pretty wonderful friends who are open minded and try to get me involved in things like parties and other social events which I can’t get to without some support.
Another great thing is that now when I meet up with my friends I don’t have to rely on them to do my personal care because I always have a support worker with me when I go out.
I’m really thankful that Australia has support services available, because even though it isn’t exactly ideal paying someone to take you to see friends, without these supports I would be stuck at home doing nothing and not building strong friendships.
Before the NDIS I hardly got to go out and do the things that I wanted to do because I wasn’t able to pay for a support worker. As I said earlier, I have some amazing friends that don’t mind helping with everything that I need, but I don’t want them to have the responsibility of looking after me.
I’m very excited for the future because as time goes by I believe the world will become more accessible and more inclusive.