Implementing the Peer Buddy Program for Students with Disabilities: Recommendations

Introduction

The author decided to focus on the peer buddy program as it relates to children with disabilities in schools. In the essay, the author will provide recommendations with regard to how the peer buddy program can be successfully implemented in schools in the future. The purpose is to see to it that children with disabilities enjoy inclusivity in the learning processes.

As such, the recommendations are meant to ensure that children with disabilities are not discriminated against in the school system. In addition, the author will introduce social scripting as a support system for the peer buddy program. The aim is to enhance the success of the peer buddy program in the schools.

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To compile the current essay, the author relied on secondary sources of information. The information from these secondary sources is used to support the arguments made by the author. The author finds the topic quite relevant, especially in the future of inclusive education in both public and private schools. For this reason, the author will recommend ways through which the program can be improved. In addition, the author will analyze how social scripting will help in the implementation of the peer buddy program in the future.

2. Recommendations

2.0. Overview

According to Charman (1997, p. 3), the peer buddy program is an approach adopted to educate students with disabilities. The approach allows such children to spend time with those students who are not disabled. The peer buddy program addresses the various impediments to inclusion.

In most cases, such impediments are present in secondary schools (Delano & Snell, 2006, p. 29). For instance, the program is important when it comes to class scheduling. In such cases, peers are introduced to help students with disabilities maneuver from one class to the other with ease.

Accordingly, the author has proposed several recommendations towards an effective implementation of a peer buddy program in schools. The recommendations are important for the future of inclusive education. The recommendations made by the author rely on the arguments made by Bellini, Peters, Benner & Hopf (2007). According to Bellini et al. (2007), inclusivity is important as it enhances the quality of future education for both disabled and non-disabled students.

2.1. Social Script Training should be Part of the Peer Buddy Program

To effectively implement a peer buddy program in any school, teachers should pay special attention to students with autism. To this end, teachers can make use of social script training. Social script training is one of the possible strategies of effectively implementing a peer buddy program in schools. Social script training is important as it ensures that students with autism, as well as students with other forms of disabilities, are effectively catered for.

According to Goldstein & Cisar (1992, p. 270), script training involves a situation where a specific play sequence is constructed with the help of play theme-related materials for students. Goldstein & Cisar (1992) concluded that script training increased the number of activities that the students were involved in. The results are a clear indication that, coupled with the overall special education program, script writing is the future of a better peer buddy program.

2.2. Engage in Motivational Activities that Help Improve Comprehension

Goldstein & Cisar (1992, p. 273) are of the opinion that adults should be made part of the peer buddy program. The two scholars opine that, owing to the maturity of parents, such issues as encouragement and support will be effectively addressed in implementing the program.

According to the author of the current paper, participation of parents will motivate the disabled students, as well as potential volunteers, involved in the implementation of this program. Such activities as arts and craft, which have a mentoring aspect to them, will motivate participants in the peer buddy program. In addition, such activities will improve the students’ comprehension abilities.

2.3. Continuous Awareness on the Need for Interactions

Nietzel (2008) describes a situation where few non-disabled students are willing to participate in the program. In most cases, such a trend is caused by stigma associated with the interaction between students with disabilities and those without.

For an effective peer buddy program, Stahmer & Schreibman (1992) propose creating awareness with regard to the essence of inclusivity in the education system. Such awareness will address the problem of dwindling numbers of volunteers. There is need for a continuous awareness program in schools.

2.4. Select a Set Number of Non-Disabled Volunteers per Class

The author of this paper recommends that in future, school authorities should introduce a policy that helps in the selection of a pre-determined number of volunteers.

The selection will involve both teachers and students. Such a measure will go a long way in addressing the problem of inadequate participants (read volunteers) for the peer buddy program. Moreover, the author finds such a measure quite beneficial to the reduction of stigma associated with participating in the peer buddy program.

Conclusion

In the current paper, the author made an attempt to highlight the various attributes of peer buddy program as far as its place in the education system is concerned. The author highlighted what the entire concept is all about.

In addition, the author introduced script training as a tool that will help boost the effectiveness of the peer buddy program. The author made further recommendations regarding the overall implementation of a peer buddy program. The recommendations took into consideration the future of the education system and the place for disabled students.

The author advises school authorities to abandon the traditional programs that promote segregation of students with disabilities. Inclusivity, as recommended by the author of this paper, will ensure that the peer buddy program is the future of quality education for students with disabilities.

References

Bellini, S., Peters, J. K., Benner, L., & Hopf, A. (2007). A meta-analysis of school-based social skills interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders. Remedial and Special Education, 28, 153-162.

Charman, T. (1997). The relationship between joint attention and pretend play in autism. Development and Psychopathology, 9, 1–16.

Delano, M., & Snell, M. E. (2006). The effects of social stories on the social engagement of children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 8, 29-42.

Goldstein, H., & Cisar, C. L. (1992). Promoting interaction during social play: Teaching scripts to typical pre-schoolers and classmates with disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 265-280.

Nietzel, J. (2008). Steps for implementation: PMII for early childhood. Chapel Hill, NC: The National Professional Development Center on ASD, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, The University of North Carolina.

Stahmer, A. C., & Schreibman, L. (1992). Teaching children with autism appropriate play in unsupervised environments using a self-management treatment package. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 447–459.

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