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Resources by Topic >> Social Development

Growing up, learning to relate healthily with others, building friendships—it isn’t easy for any of us. The process can be much more challenging for people with disabilities. They may not have typical surroundings and opportunities for associating with others. Conversely, if mainstreamed in school or society, their uniqueness can isolate them even in close proximity to many others. But having a network of friends and acquaintances is an important element in the happiness of most people and can be a key support for people with disabilities. The resources here will help you find options for connecting with others, developing fulfilling relationships and finding support and help when you need it.

Relationships: Our relationships with others are central to life. They keep us connected to reality, sustain us emotionally and intellectually, support us in troubles great and small and offer the chance to rise above self-concern and give back to others. Finding friends can be a challenge and keeping them sometimes takes work. At times, we may need support.
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Human Sexuality: Sexual identity, feelings and behavior are sensitive topics, and they don’t occur in isolation. They are part of our most intimate self but they affect our relations with others, and others sometimes have strong opinions and reactions. Education and, when appropriate, advice or counseling can help us realize full personhood and navigate stormy waters.
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Social Networking: People have been meeting friends through other friends for thousands of years but the rapid pervasion of global culture by the Internet has revolutionized social networking. Social networking sites literally open the world to you to make new friends with common interests but it’s important to follow some rules of etiquette and computer security.
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Conflict Resolution: Well-meaning people can have different opinions and beliefs, even different understandings of the facts. Even if there are only two people involved and they have common goals and visions, they may still disagree about the way forward. Disagreements can be more complicated when there are multiple parties and any of them are seemingly impersonal organizations or agencies. When you can’t come to a satisfactory agreement, mediation or appeal may be the only way to resolve a conflict.
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Spiritual Support: Some of life’s issues don’t lend themselves to problem solving. We have to seek out our own meaning and happiness under, around or through them. It can be hard to keep your spirit up by yourself. Connecting with others in a religious or other spiritual setting can be a way to discover your strengths, faith in yourself and answers to life’s mysteries.
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I was pretty much the only person with disabilities in my class throughout school. Being in a public school environment prior to high school loosened me up. That was just a regular, average social situation.
—Ahmad Zaghal

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