How to Make a Friend With Down Syndrome

There's no reason to not make friends with somebody who has Down Syndrome just because they are a bit different! They are just like you, really. People with Down Syndrome are most often wonderful people, and befriending someone with Down Syndrome can lead to a long-lasting friendship. Why not try reaching out to some of them?


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    Confront your assumptions and thought process. What stereotypes have you heard about people with Down Syndrome, and what preconceived notions do you have? Are you wanting to be their friend out of pity, in order to look like a "saint," or because you value them as a human being and think they're cool? No one wants a pity friend.
    • People with Down Syndrome are people, first and foremost. They have likes, dislikes, talents, weaknesses, hobbies, and interests just like everyone else.
    • Discard any stereotypes. Some people with Down Syndrome are indeed cheerful, but no one is a perfect angel or a constantly happy person. People with Down Syndrome also experience bad moods, bad days, and bad choices.
    • Ask yourself if you value the person as a person, or if you just want to have a disabled friend because it's "nice" or "saintlike" to befriend people with disabilities.
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    Learn a bit about Down Syndrome. It can be helpful to know exactly what makes your friend special, and what needs they might experience. This can help you be a supportive friend.
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    Spark a conversation. Maybe you like their shirt, want to remark about the weather, or could use a hand carrying some things.
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    Ask your friend open-ended questions to get to know them. What are their interests? What is their family like? What are their talents and dreams? Remember this information, and do your best to get to know them as a person.
    • Ask questions that require a longer answer than a "yes" or "no." That way, you can learn more about them.
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    Introduce yourself at the end of the conversation. Mention the possibility of seeing them around: are there any locations that you both go to hang out (cafeteria, park, science class, etc.)? Try to leave with the possibility of seeing them again.
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    Accept them as they are. Your friend will have Down Syndrome for life, and they'll always be a little different. This is not a defect; it is part of who they are. Recognize your friend's wonderful qualities, and don't sweat their weaknesses. They're disabled, and that's okay.
    • Never try to perform therapy on your friend. It's done by professionals for a reason.
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    Offer help, without pushing it. If you notice your friend struggling with a task, ask "Would you like some help?" That way, they can get help if they need it, but they can still try doing it themselves if they want to. Remember, your friend has good judgment and can figure out when and whether they need a hand.
    • If your friend tells you about a problem, ask "Would you like some advice?" before you give them advice. (This is also important for helping people without Down Syndrome.)
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    Find activities to enjoy together. Does your friend like games, ice cream, painting, movies, the beach, etc.? Ask what they like and find activities that you both enjoy. This way, you can enjoy your time together.


  • Remember, they might be on the shyer side, so don't pressure or crowd them. Give them space.


  • They might become distracted or walk away from you while you are talking to them. Keep in mind they have a disability; don't ever assume it's because they don't like you.

Article Info

Categories: Down Syndrome | Forming Friendships