One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming people with developmental disabilities aren’t social. They are—and, what’s more, people with special needs are awesome at being friends. If you don’t have any people with developmental disabilities in your life, you’re missing out on some amazing life experiences. Like these:
- 1. Best. Hugs. Ever.
No double back taps and done here. None of this just-squeeze-the-upper-arms-and-call-it-a-hug nonsense. People with special needs tend to go all in, bear-hug style, to deliver a supremely satisfying open-hearted hug that makes you say, “thanks, friend. I didn’t realize how much I needed that.”
- 2. No B.S. relationships.
No players. No haters. No games. It’s WYSIWYG where you never have to wonder “what did they mean by that?” People with disabilities tend to mean what they say and say what they mean. There is something quite refreshing about having good people in your life who excel at uncomplicated relationships.
- 3. Two words: dance party.
Hands in the air. Nobody cares. If you want the freedom to change your worldview from “dance like nobody’s watching” to “dance like it doesn’t matter who’s watching,” then you’ll need to start hanging with people with special needs because when the beats drop, the feet don’t stop.
- 4. Unique perspectives.
How cool is it that our brains process information in such different ways? When we surround ourselves with people who live with autism or Down syndrome, we get the happy surprise of seeing the world in the unique way their brains work. It’s like “wow, I never thought of that before!”
- 5. True friends.
If you’ve ever looked around and said, “I need some loyal, loving, authentic friends,” then we suggest really getting to know some people with disabilities. Genuine to the core. Nothing phony. Down to earth. In it to win it friendship.
- 6. Super great listeners.
Okay: we know true friends are also usually super great listeners, but many people with disabilities are so good at listening to their friends that we had to give it a separate number. People with disabilities aren’t just pausing in the conversation to let you talk before bringing the convo back to themselves. They are listening because you matter. Know why? Because you’re their friend. See #5.
- 7. Smile life
When you include people with special needs, you become part of what we like to call smile life. So much happiness. It’s the completeness that comes from having relationships with genuine, authentic people who are nice, tell the truth, and love to have fun. From this pure place, a true joy bubbles up, and you won’t be able to stop yourself from smiling. And we’re not talking about grins. We mean my-cheeks-are-hurting-and-I-still-can’t-stop-smiling joy.