GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Maddeline “Maddy” Thomas ’18 is a disability activist and will be contributing articles on disability awareness in the workplace and beyond. This is her second article for the blog.
Why is it Hard to Form Relationships?
People with disabilities experience social barriers because people without disabilities are scared to communicate with them. People feel uncomfortable being seen and impatient with people with disabilities. The solution is inclusion and embracing their strengths and social goals. People with disabilities need to have strong support systems. Life can be hectic with work, getting to places, and adjusting to the work environment. Strong friendships provide people with disabilities a safe place to be themselves.
I knew I needed people who would support me no matter what. I had to do trial and error to find people who will accept and embrace me. I went through many people and had some disappointments. We did not form the foundation to build relationships and grew apart. I ended up finding people who naturally accepted me, and I could be myself with them.
I focused on building strong relationships with people. I found my best friends during my last two years of college through being involved on campus. We wanted to be in each other’s lives as soon as we met. They observed how I handle situations with my disabilities. They knew the nature of my disabilities before we started hanging out. They are easy-going, super supportive, patient, understanding, and sincere. We overcome challenges, and we push each other to be our best. My best friends support me in different ways and are strong individuals.
During my senior year of college, I had so many roles. I was an accounting assistant at a nonprofit called Project Hired in the Fall semester and a tax intern at an accounting firm called Singer Lewak in the Spring semester. I was a full-time student with five classes and worked as the day student representative on campus. I lived in Saratoga, CA, commuted to Atherton, CA for classes, and drove to work in downtown San Jose a few times a week. My strong relationships got me through my busy schedule because my friends kept me going. They attended my campus events and were always available to talk. After graduation, we support each other in finding new jobs and dealing with conflict in our current jobs. With a hectic work week, it is nice to hang out with friends on the weekend!
Tips on Building Strong Relationships with People with Disabilities
People without disabilities can build relationships with people with disabilities through work, school, families, and networks. People with disabilities should be admired for their personalities, characteristics, and abilities. Do not be judged by the books of their covers. Some relationships take time and extra effort. People without disabilities will miss out on unique, creative, and smart individuals. They need to be patient and have an open mind. People with disabilities surprise them and this makes people without disabilities grow too.
Categories: Disability Awareness in the Workplace