Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging
Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

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Exploring learning disabilities: supporting belonging

2 Making friends

Friendships are good for everyone. As you learned in Session 6, friendships help to reduce loneliness and isolation. Reducing loneliness can improve people’s physical and mental wellbeing, and can even lead to people living longer.

Having friends can also help people with learning disabilities feel more confident and be more independent, so it’s vitally important. But does this reflect what is happening in people’s lives?

Activity 4 Experiences of friendships

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Watch this video of Cian, Charlene and Terry talking about their friends. As you watch, note down anything that struck you as interesting or important in the video in the text box below.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 4
Skip transcript: Video 4

Transcript: Video 4

CIAN
I had a very difficult time making friends when I was young, with both autistic people and non-autistic people. And I think, to a certain extent, I do still have trouble making friends with people.
CHARLENE
Yeah. Now, friends yeah I’ve got proper, good, good, good friends, but the thing is not time to see them that often-- very busy and--
CIAN
I find it hard to tell who my real friends are because of my autism. That's a bit of a thing I have. Although, I do know that I have good friends, but I just don't know where I am with people. That's a bit of a trouble I have, really. Yeah.
TERRY
I class everyone including the teachers as part of my family because they have supported me through a lot of rubbish times, throughout the period that I've been with Access. So, yeah. My friends are my family, I wouldn't give them up for the world.
End transcript: Video 4
Video 4
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Answer

You may have noted that Cian said he found it hard to make friends at school. He also said that sometimes his autism can make it more difficult for him to know who his ‘real friends’ are. Charlene said she has lots of good friends these days, but it can be hard finding the time to see them. Terry said that he had made good friends at Access all Areas. This includes other actors with learning disabilities, as well as the teachers. He said his friends were like family.

Video 4 shows that people make friends in a range of different contexts. It is not always easy for people with learning disabilities to make and keep friends, however. Practical issues like needing to travel to see your friends can also be a barrier for some.

It is also important that those who provide support to people with learning disabilities recognise the importance of friendships. This isn’t always the case and sometimes support workers don’t focus on what is needed to help people to make and sustain friendships.

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