Finding someone you care about, opening up to them and starting a relationship can be both an exciting and scary experience for anyone. If you’re young and perhaps going through this for the first time and you have ataxia, you might find the experience a little more daunting. However, having a disability like ataxia needn’t be a huge barrier to having fulfilling relationships as a young person.

There are lots of ways to meet people in day-to-day life, such as at college or a party. However, if you’re finding it challenging to get out and meet people, there are hundreds of different dating websites, matchmaking services, singles-clubs and social events for people, that you could use to get an introduction to someone new. You may however feel like you’re not particularly interested in having a relationship at the moment – you don’t have to feel pressure to be with someone because other people around you are in relationships or because your friends and family think it might be a good idea, only you can know when you’re ready.

However, if you are interested, it’s understandable that you think your ataxia may get in the way – but with the right supportive partner you’ll be able to work around any issues that might appear throughout your relationship. The only thing that’s essential to get a relationship off the ground is for you to be interested in them and for them to be interested in you – everyone comes with their own ‘baggage’, the most important thing with a potential partner is to be open and honest about the person you are and how you feel. Keeping a relationship healthy in the long term comes with its own separate challenges, which are faced by all people in relationships, but you may feel an extra pressure with ataxia if your needs change i.e. you need more support. Again however, this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a relationship – loads of people with ataxia are in loving, supportive and committed long-term relationships, so you shouldn’t be afraid or think that it could never happen for you because you have ataxia.

Of course, there are lots of dating websites out there too. One of which, Outsiders, is a social, peer-support and dating club, run by and for socially and physically disabled people. It's worth checking out!