Today I want to address the hesitancy many have to befriend folks with special needs, usually out of a fear that the needs will be so deep that the new friend will be overwhelmed.
Let me just say that you don’t need to fear that. You *will* be overwhelmed. But isn’t that what *any* friendship is about? We are *all* needy people. For Christians, that is good news, for being overwhelmed is a condition that leads us to rely on Christ more!!! And that is a good thing.
Let’s do the math. People with special needs are, first of all, people like the rest of us. Most of them need and want friends, just like the rest of us.
If we conclude that only the people who are used to people with disabilities should befriend them, we exempt a good chunk of the human race from having any responsibility whatever towards people with special needs. But is that Biblical (or moral, if you are not a Christian)?
We parents of kids with special needs are usually pretty comfortable around others who have various conditions, not just our own personal child. But is it then right that we should be responsible for being their *only* friends and support system? The way I figure it, that would make me responsible for being the best friend of about 200 young people I know with disabilities.
That can’t possibly be my calling! I could not do that in 50 lifetimes.
So here is a practical hint. Don’t *let* the situation become untenable and overwhelming.
One young lady with disabilities who is just starting out on her career PM’s me every time she sees me on Facebook. We all know how that works. You can see when someone else is active. When she sees that, she shoots me a message. If I answer, I get another message ten seconds later. And then again. And again.
So I have told her we are working on rhythm. On how people can message each other throughout the day and still get their work done. I respond to her every couple of hours. That way, she knows I care. I get things done.
Not hard, is it? It is only hard if I allow myself to think that her feelings of wanting constant texts from me have to govern my behavior. They don’t.
People with issues related to OCD will always push you to give them more and more. For that matter, people without OCD will do the same. We *all* want to feel important to someone else.
The solution for those of us who love people with disabilities is to give them what we can, but to let them know that their loneliness, boredom, lack of structure, or whatever is currently going on in their lives is not going to be allowed to control us or guilt us into spending more time than we can afford to spend being in touch.
Still, it is good to be in touch with someone with disabilities. They need friends, too. And they have much to offer and teach those of us who don’t ostensibly have disabilities.