Making friends can be hard, but it can often be more difficult if you have a disability. Friends are hard to come by and if you have two to three people you can truly call “real” friends, you’re doing well.

How does one make true friends? Well it can be a tricky process; I’ve had some friends that I thought were cool, but turned out to be phonies. It’s really up to you to decide who has your best at heart.

When growing up, all I wanted was friends.  I had my parents and siblings who I can say are my best friends; but there’s still nothing like playing with children your own age. I managed, however, to make friends with other kids who liked me for me. So I would like say to parents, when children approach your child who has a disability and are curious to know what’s wrong with he or she, don’t shy away from conversation.  Same goes for the parent of a non-disabled person; if your child comes up to an adult or child with disabilities, it’s not a harmful situation, let that interaction happen. That’s the only way awareness will begin and friendship happens. After-all, no child, disability or not, wants to have a birthday party with no other kids showing up.  Friends are very important to a child’s development process.

If you ask me, the best way for a child with a disability to make friends, is to mainstream with typical school age children from the beginning. Children are growing, learning, interacting and often exploring differences.

Now that I’m older, the whole friendship thing is a little different. I have friends and then I have associates. My friends are the ones that will go with me anywhere no matter the challenges. Associates on the other hand will shun you or make up reasons why it’s too hard for them to go with you; yet they always need to borrow something. Watch out for associates, because if they don’t mind asking you for twenty dollars to put in their gas tank, they shouldn’t mind taking your service dog along or throwing your mobility device in their trunk so you can go with them.

Matter fact, one of my golden rules is to never give up my last of anything. Another one is, to never tell anyone how much money you have in your pocket. I’ve preached this to my nieces and nephews since they were born. If you asked any of them, what are Auntie Shari’s golden rules, they will tell you.

A “real” friend won’t want your last of anything or will not want to use you just for favors.

The best way to make friends is to just be you.  These are words that my mother has taught me.  She has helped me prosper throughout my forty-five years. One statement that rings true today and every day, “everyone is not going to like you or want to be your friend and you have to except that and move on”.  In the same breath she also told me, “I will know when someone wants to be my friend because their actions will show me”. Mom is a wise woman and I live by many of the things she has told me.

I have moved on from a few friends and held on to the ones that are true to me. Friendship is a process but if you find the “right” people, it’s worth the journey.

12 comments on “Friendship

  1. Debbie on

    Such a wise young woman. Shari, I am proud to call you friend. I have had many friends over the years and now that I am older I can be selective. But I cherish the friends who have stuck with me through the difficult times and celebrated the good times. I am always there for my friends no matter what. But I am fortunate to be married to my best friend.

  2. Connie on

    Very good advice, and I especially agree about the mainstreaming philosophy. And your Mom IS a very wise and wonderful person!! Great Article!!

  3. Margie on


    Good article.

    I don’t have many close friends but I do consider you to be one of them. I’m glad we’ve been able to stay friends for almost 20 years even though we don’t work together anymore.

    • Shari Cooper on

      I consider you to be one of my close friends as well. I think it’s also cool we have remained bonded even though we don’t work together anymore. True friendship will last.

  4. Melody Mitchell on

    Real Friends are defiantly a blessing from heaven! Very good advice on letting kids ask questions because when you think about it kids ask each other questions all to time and if you answer honestly they are just fine with their new information. Keep the knowledge flowing Shari!

  5. Belinda Medley on

    Shari, I enjoy reading your blog. I too thought I had some real friends but as my circumstances changed so did my friends. As you know I have physical disabilities but on top of that two years ago I got breast cancer. Those were my darkest and scariest days those were the days some of my “friends” disappeared.
    I’m happy to say that I still have a few friends, some separated by distance but friends nevertheless. I consider you one of them.

    • Shari Cooper on

      Hey Belinda,
      Good hearing from you. I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnose but I’m sure you will beat it. You’re a warrior and I’m praying for you. Thanks for reading, commenting and reaching out. Blessings.


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