In college, students usually make a lot of friends. Can a person with Cerebral Palsy have the same experience as the next student? I would have to say yes. In my own opinion, being in college is something special. First, if you are in a class with someone who has Cerebral Palsy, it may be safe to assume that they are smart enough to be in college. To me, that is a huge relief on the student so they have a common ground to start a friendship.

My friend Lipold and I met on a retreat during my first year of college.

chris and his friend Lipold in college

chris and his friend Lipold in college

With that being said, in my opinion, the student with Cerebral Palsy has to be out going too. The first weekend that I was at college, my parents and I went to church. After mass, I told my mom to ask the priest if he knew someone who would be able to take me to church. My mom told me to not bother the priest, but I kept bugging her to ask him. Finally we talked to the priest and he took my name and phone number. A few days later a guy called me saying he could help me to get to church. He had no car so he had to get his friend to drive us to church. That worked for the first year of college.

Making Friends in Class

I needed help with getting into the class room and taking notes for me. So on the first day of class, I had a friend or someone from the rehabilitation center go with me to all my classes. They would make an announcement that I would need assistance getting in the building and taking notes. There were one or two students who were willing to help me. The student and I had become friends. We sometimes studied together and we got to know each other. One student helped me in two classes and he got to know me pretty well. One day in the second class,  I had a scary moment right after the professor let us go. The professor did not really know me well because the class was huge. When the professor saw what was going on, he didn’t know if I was with my friend. My reaction to what this person did might have seemed rehearse, but it was NOT. My friend went to the professor and told him what have happened and I needed help. Without this friend, I don’t know what I would do.

PCA’s as Friends

Personal care assistants usually become really good friends. The time that they are with you might strengthen the bonding between you and them. They know you really well and that makes the friendship special. Sometimes the personal care assistant is not really good so the friendship might not grow.

Another way to make friends in college is to join some clubs or get active in church or even your dorm. I went on a retreat at the church. That was the best thing I did because I made so many friends that increased my independence at college.

Professors and Teacher Assistants as Friends?

If you like a professor and get to know them, that might build a relationship with them. I had a professor who actually wrote for me when we had a test. The time with the professor was unbelievable because he knew that I was smart. Toward the end of the class he asked me if I would like a summer job. I said yes. That just opened more doors for me and created more friendships.

It is the same with teacher assistants. I became a good friend with one of my teacher assistants. After that, he helped me with the rest of my computer science tests. That made my life much easier.

What should I do?

All I am trying to say is that friends don’t come on a silver platter. You have to put yourself out there so people can see you. If you do that, it will make it easier to meet good friends. I would like to go back to my college years because I was surrounded by people who could become a friend. College life is much easier to meet people than after college. If you are going to college now or next fall, remember one thing which is you have one chance to experience college. Don’t miss the opportunity.

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