Advice For Peer Tutors
ADVICE FOR PEER TUTORS
By Susan Moreno, M.A.A.B.S.
Copyright © 2000
Courtesy of MAAP Services for Autism and Asperger Syndrome
P.O. Box 524, Crown Point, IN 46308
Info@maapservices.orgWhen you don’t know how to help, ask a teacher, a program assistant, the parents or a sibling of the student with a disability, or another peer tutor who has known the person longer.
Treat classmates with disabilities like people first. People with disabilities are just that: people who happen to have physical, sensory, intellectual disabilities. Please avoid references to “the handicapped” or “the disabled.” Rather say, “the person with a disability.” These individuals have the same feelings and personalities as you. They just can not always show it as clearly.
Call your classmate with a disability by whatever name he/she prefers. Also, be consistent in how you refer to your peer with a disability. Avoid calling him/her by their given name one time and by a nickname like “pal” or “buddy” the next time.
Be specific when discussing plans or directions. For example, do not say, “I’ll meet you near the room after class.” Instead say, “I’ll meet you at locker number 220 at 12:05pm.
DO NOT BE LATE! Many people with disabilities have a hard time understanding the concepts of time and waiting. Therefore, when you are late, they are not able to deduct on their own that an emergency or some other event may have delayed you. The result is that they may feel confused, upset, and insulted. If necessary, plan to be early and wait for him/her.
Do not make promises that you can not keep.
Do not borrow things from a person with a disability. Having others borrow items can be frustrating for any person—mainly because people seldom return what they have borrowed on time, and/or in the same condition that it was before they borrowed it. The person with a disability already handles too many frustrations in daily life. This is one frustration, which can be easily avoided.
DO NOT TEASE OR BE SARCASTIC WITH THE PERSON WITH A DISABLILTY. In order to understand the humor in teasing or sarcasm, people must be able to detect double-meanings and other advanced social and communication knowledge. The person with a disability may not have the knowledge. Teasing has probably already been a very unpleasant part of that person’s life.
Remember that taking a little extra time or trouble to include the person with a disability in your plans could be very important to him or her. They need and want friends and social opportunities and do not always know how to show that need to others.
If you see others teasing, laughing at, or making fun of a person with a disability, try explaining a little about the person to them. They may only be laughing because they do not understand the person or the disability.
Remember that you can play an important role and make a wonderful difference in the life of a person with a disability.