Getting back to life and your community with friends and family
Going out and socialising
Adjusting to your new life takes time – stop relax and don’t forget to smell the roses
Kickstarting your social life – practice makes perfect
Sustaining a spinal cord injury (SCI) can feel socially isolating and you will probably be removed from your “before injury” environment for some time while you recover. Making that decision to get back into socialising whether you are newly injured or not, can be fraught with obstacles and can appear overwhelming. If you are newly injured, you may not have been with friends or family in a social setting for some time and you could be feeling nervous. At Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) we say that practice makes perfect so we recommend you prepare as best you can and allow yourself plenty of time – and no doubt you will learn along the way.
When you feel it is time to venture out into the community you may be feeling hyperaware and nervous of navigating your environment even if you are returning to known places. There are plenty of ways for you to kickstart your social life though. In the beginning why not set yourself small tasks to help build your confidence. Pop down to the corner store, take a short trip into town, meet a friend at your local cafe.
It won’t be easy and we always believe in asking for help. Don’t be afraid to be honest when you face roadblocks and are feeling unsure of yourself. Have a look around you as your friends and family are just waiting to help and support you.
Before you know it you will be a seasoned traveller on the social scene.
Preparing for going out and being social – Research, Plan, Prepare
Know where you are going – tips for a stress free enjoyable outing
Although this is obvious to you, if you are meeting up with people who are able bodied, it isn’t always in the forefront of their mind to think about wheelchair access when picking a venue. And finding out at the last minute may not give you much time to prepare but don’t let that deter you from going out.
So that you are not disappointed you will want to check with the venue about accessibility. Don’t be afraid to be specific as there can be occasions where the venue has an accessible entrance but doesn’t have an accessible bathroom if you need one.
You can also look at many venues online and also sites that are specifically designed to share user-experience reviews, such as Trip Advisor and others. Where possible look for photos of the venue and its facilities, and read reviews by people who have visited there before you.
If you’re not familiar with the route it is best to plan your way and give yourself plenty of time to get there. If you are taking public transport, you will need to check that the mode of transport you are going to take is accessible. Footpaths may be uneven or construction is taking place that requires you to navigate around and that can add time to your journey.
If you are driving to a venue you may require an accessible car park. Although this can cut down travel time considerably, it can be difficult to locate an available accessible parking space. Most venues include information on this so check online before you go to find out what parking options are available. Disability parking permit rules vary from state-to-state in Australia and your disability parking permit may include concessions with street parking. We recommended that you read the requirements in your state.
To read more about the transport options available to you, visit our Transport and travel page.
You are not alone!
How can SCIA help?
You can contact SCIA anytime to get advice, suggestions or advocacy help if you are having difficulties with a venue or your chosen mode of transport. Contact us on 1800 819 775 or firstname.lastname@example.org on any issue and we will ensure that your query or concerns are answered. We are here to help!