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Striking up a conversation

Hi readers, it’s Emily and William here this week talking about striking up a conversation.

It can be really hard to start a conversation with a stranger, and especially hard for someone with a learning disability. That’s because someone with a learning disability might also have more difficulty with speech, memory and people understanding what we say, not making it exactly easy to find new friends.

We’ve just been thinking about our first conversation. It would have been at a Friendship Club event when I, William, was collecting the subs. I, Emily, got to know William but just saying hello as I handed in my £2. The staff running the event supported us to get talking, starting conversations and helping us make other friends too.

But even now we are more confident, if we were say, sat on a bench in the park, and a stranger sat down beside us, we doubt we’d start a conversation with them. Mainly because we worry about saying the wrong thing or getting our words mixed up. If they spoke to us, like about the weather, we’d probably chat back. It would also depend if we felt comfortable with them. If it was an older person we think we’d feel more confident. It feels harder to say something to a younger person.

With the friends we’ve made, we find it ok to strike up conversations. Once someone says something it’s mostly easy, like if we’ve just watched a film we’d probably talk about that. In face sometimes everyone talks so much at the same time it can be difficult to get our turn. Other times we may be quieter. It also depends on who is there and the mood we are in. Having conversations is good. Let’s all keep talking!

The writers of the Our View column are supported in their editing by The Friendship Club – a project for adults with learning disabilities, run by People First Dorset. Find out more at:

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