Wednesday, June 16, 2021


(During the summer months, I like to take the A-Z Challenge and come up with words alphabetically and see how they apply to education. I think it’s a great exercise for teachers and students to give this a try.)

Friendship is always hard for my students with special needs. Being in special classes makes my students different from students in general classes. Their curriculum is different so they don’t have a lot in common with the other students. Due to their disability, they might have trouble connecting with others and making new friends.

The problem for my students is getting started. No one likes feeling rejected or ridiculed. Over the years, students notice the widening gap between students in general ed classes and special ed classes, Many teenagers pick on students who are different. So, my students have learned over time to protect themselves from bullying by staying apart from others. They set up a wall as a defense mechanism which makes it hard to make friends.

Sometimes there are students who want to act like friends to my students because they want to ridicule them. They appear to want to be friends so my students will do things and then they can laugh at them. My students want to have friends so much that they are willing to do things they know are wrong just so they can be accepted by their “new” friends.

I work hard on helping my students become self-advocates and speaking up for themselves. I want them to know that having a disability is not something they should be ashamed about and it is out of their control. Yet, how they cope with the disability and their behavior is something that they can control. Having control over themselves makes it easier to make friends.

I also have some of my more outgoing students who are willing to talk about their disabilities share information with students in other classes. By working with another teacher, we set up a short time for my students to speak to other classes. Many general education students avoid my students in special education because they don’t understand disabilities or how my students feel. I noticed the more awareness that my students can spread throughout the student body, the more comfortable other students are in including them in groups outside of my classroom.

Friendship can start out by acknowledging another student’s existence and not being mean to them. It might mean including them in some activities. Inviting them to sit at your lunch table can mean a lot. Eventually, as students get to know each other better, there might be more opportunities to do things together Soon a friendship can develop.

How would you help students develop friendships? Please share.

Photo by Official on Unsplash

No comments: