Supportive friendships and relationships at school contribute to children’s quality of life as well as their learning. There are some concerns that students with disabilities may be isolated, lonely and have few friends at school, even when they have always been taught in the mainstream. This article explores a range of friendship and relationship themes described by three students with disabilities and their families, and looks at some of the ways in which schools can support or create barriers to the development of friendships for students with disabilities.
The quotation in the title of this article comes from Ryan, a New Zealand secondary-school student, in a statement to his teachers. Ryan wanted his teachers to recognise his impairment-related needs and experiences at school and to take these into consideration in their teaching. His statement also referred to the various barriers he faced at school that meant he needed help or additional time for school activities.