Sunday, 22 September 2013


As I’ve mentioned before, E will not being going to her catchment high school, which means none of her friends from school will be going with her.  Over this year, we are aiming to develop opportunities for E to create some new friendships with those she will be going to high school with.  The school and ed psych are supporting us in this and we hope to meet in the next few months to look at creating a link with a feeder primary school.  To supplement that, we are also looking into after school activities both in the community use part of the high school and other places attended by the cluster school kids. 

This has made me reflect a bit on friendships and the changing dynamics of those between children with additional support needs and those without.  Chatting to other parents, it seems many found  it relatively easy to create opportunities for children to play together and for relationships to develop.  Children always seem very open to this and accept whatever adaptations need to be made. 

As the children get older, and start to develop independence, things become more challenging.  Children start to enjoy the independence of playing without adult supervision, often outside on bikes and the like.  E wants to join in, but she’s slower and less independent than them.  She’s still included but the children have to adapt their activities more to make that happen.  It’s the same for after school clubs, many of which are based around physical activities which become harder to integrate as you get older.

There are other barriers too.   As E’s helper I am learning to give the support she needs while blending into the background at the same time.  Going to someone’s house is not as straightforward either as access is a bigger issue both for the wheelchair and E getting to the toilet.  She’s never had a sleepover other than with family as the difficulties of lifting and transfers seem to daunting.

 Now add into this mix the changes that all children around this age go through and the idea of building new friendships feels a real challenge to me.   I should say that E is a friendly girl who is confident that she has friends and has the personality and empathy to make new ones given the opportunity.

It would be good to hear from anyone who has successfully been through a transition like this and your own thoughts on the changing dynamics of friendships.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I'm a 22 year old woman with a physical disability which means I use a wheelchair and had a support assistant at school. Generally, transition from primary to secondary school was not an issue for making friends, though I went from a small village primary school to a grammar school where a lot of kids didn't really know anyone, or were just acquaintances (I knew one girl). I'm sure there will be quite a lot of "getting to know you" type games in the first week or so, but I think attending some after school clubs and activities in a feeder school is a great idea (just make sure if you can that you ask for the kids who your daughter gets on with can be placed in the same form as her). If E doesn't attend already attend, I'd definitely recommend Brownies/Guides - a lot of the activities aren't physically demanding, and if you get a good leader who is willing victim accommodate, most things should be able to be adapted.

    I must admit though, I did struggle a bit with friendships, especially as I got into years 8 and 9 and my mates were going to sleepovers, to each others' houses and were allowed to go shopping/cinema without an adult. After a bit of negotiation with my parents, my dad used to drop me off in town, and go for a coffee or wander round (he even followed us around from a distance once - I was so embarrassed!) with his mobile handy so I could call him if I needed him but still have some independence with my friends (they used to push my wheelchair, help me with lunch etc) - would something like that be a possibility?

    I'm happy to help, or answer any questions you might have, just Facebook message me, Tweet me or send me an e-mail through my blog.