Social Connections

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The basis for all friendship is mutual respect and the sharing of ideas, feelings and experiences. Friendships will enrich your life and expand your horizons. Remember that you have just as much to share and give as any other person in a friendship.

You can meet potential friends almost anywhere ranging from school, clubs, summer camp and in your neighbourhood. The more you participate in activities and develop an open and easy way of communicating with people, the easier it will be to make friends. 

Most people like to have a broad range of friends.  It is good to share feelings, excitement and fears with other people who have disabilities. They are likely experiencing many of the same things as you. It is also good to socialize with and learn from non-disabled friends. In any case the quality of your friendship is the important thing. Socializing with all kinds of people plays a major part in developing the unique person inside each one of us.

It is important to remember that we are all total people, with many different parts-physical, intellectual, social emotional and spiritual.  Take the time to answer the questions below before you move along in this activity. They will help you identify social opportunities and the skills you might want to improve upon:

Who are the people that you feel connected to?
How do you stay in touch with the people in your life now?
How can you stay in touch with people after high school, college or university?

List ways to stay in touch with family & friends.

 


4 Steps for Making Social Connections

While there are many ways you can develop social connections, reaching out to people who have similar interests is a good way to start.

Step 1: Start with your interests. Ask yourself, “What do I like to do”. Is it photography, camping, swimming, electronics, or art? Each of us has one or two hobbies or activities that we like to do. List your interests here:

Step 2: Find out what activities, programs or clubs are offered in your community. For example, if your interest is photography, then you can find out if there is a group, club or class that you could join? List what you have found.

Step 3: Learn about the equipment, clothing, supplies, or other things that you might need to join the group, club, or class. Often this information is presented the first time you attend. If not, find someone who can help you if you need it.

Step 4: Is there someone who could go with you to introduce you to the club, class, group or business? This person may be someone who is already involved in the activity. This person can be a friend, community worker, community volunteer, you mom or dad sister or brother or someone who can support you to get connected?

 

Other considerations

Once you know what kind of activities you are interested in, there are a few other things to consider before getting involved in the activity. Try to find answers to the following questions:

 

  1. Do you need a paid support person or personal attendant with you?
     
  2. How often will you need paid support?
     
  3. How much will support cost?
     
  4. Cost of activities, supplies & equipment?
     
  5. How will I get to the activity?
     
  6. Do you require transportation? How often?
     
  7. Do you need accessible transportation?
     
  8. How much will transportation cost?

 

Internet Safety and Networking

You may start a relationship online with someone who seems friendly - someone who takes an interest in your life and asks harmless questions about your home, school, or friends. However, you may not recognize that this seemingly friendly person is asking inappropriate questions or that certain types of information (phone number, school, real name, etc.) may be dangerous to share with this person who is really is a stranger to you. Since online networking can be dangerous, preparing yourself for safe online interaction is important. Following are some of the safety tips you should consider when you are using the internet.
 

Social Networking Sites – Safety Tips

o Think about how different sites work before deciding to join a site.

o Some sites will allow only a defined community of users to access posted content; others allow anyone and everyone to view postings.

o Keep your personal information to yourself.

o Do not share your address, parents’ names, social insurance number, driver’s license or any information about your bank or credit cards.

o Keep your anti-spyware and anti-virus programs running at all times. If you get a virus or spyware message, get offline and fix it immediately.

o Only use a browser that will not leak information.

o Make sure your user name doesn’t say too much about you.

o Don’t use your name, your age, or your home town on the screen name.

o Even if you think your screen name makes you anonymous, it doesn’t take a genius to combine clues to figure out who you are and where you can be found.

o Post only information that you are comfortable with others seeing — and knowing about you.

o Many people can see your page, including your parents, your teachers, police officers, college or university you might want to apply next year, or the job you might want to apply for in few years.

o Remember that once you post information online, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete the information from a site, older versions exist on other people’s computers.

o Please try not to post your photo. It can be altered and broadcasted in ways you may not be happy about it.

o Flirting with strangers online could have serious consequences. Because some people lie about who they really are, you never really know who you’re dealing with.

o Be wary if a new online friend wants to meet with you in person. Before you decide to meet someone, do your research: Ask whether any of your friends know the person, and see what background you can dig up through online search engines.

o If you decide to meet, be smart about it: do not go alone! If you decide to go alone to meet someone, do it in a public place, during the day. Tell your friend or parent where you’re going, and when you expect to be back.
o Trust your gut feelings. If you have suspicions, or you feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, tell an adult you trust and report it to the police and the social networking site. You will be protecting yourself and you could also end up preventing someone else from becoming a victim.


Social Networking Sites

I strongly encourage you to look at the rules posted by Face Book for safety. This is a very thorough list and therefore may need to be broken into just a few rules that fit for you.  But it is really worth reading!
http://www.facebook.com/terms.php

Three Most Important Rules

1)  Stick with your friends. Only talk with your friends while you are on the internet.
2)  Keep private information private. Don’t share your address, phone number, social insurance number or
     any banking or financial information.
3)  Don’t let your information get away from you.

You can memorize these rules or write them down, print them out and post them on your computer. Following is a example of rules that you can post it on your computer.