Buddy Guide

Buddy Guide

A Guide to Interacting Successfully with Your Buddy

The Top 5 reported disabilities among children in Newton County:

Words Do Matter- "People First" Language

“People first” language refers to how people identify people with disabilities. It is important to focus on the person first and use a label only to describe what a person has rather than what a person is. Focusing on the person first allows society to view people with disabilities first and foremost as a person rather than as a disability.


Rather than “He is mentally disabled”

Try “He has a cognitive disability.”

Rather than “She is autistic.”

Try “She has autism.”

Speech Language Disorders

Children with speech and language disorders can have trouble producing sound, using spoken language as communication, and understanding what people are saying to them. Children may use alternate means of communication such as American Sign Language, a Picture Exchange Communication, or Augmentative Alternative communication. When working with children with a speech language disorder, it is important to give them enough time to respond, encourage them to speak without force, use gestures when speaking, and make sure to model correct grammar.

Emotional and Behavioral Disorder

Children with emotional and behavioral disorder are characterized by externalizing and internalizing behaviors that go against the norm of the child’s age group and culture. Some children may display antisocial behavior while others internalize their actions. Buddies should make sure to meet with parents to identify stressors that may cause anxiety, compliment the child for partaking in pro-social behaviors, and lead by example.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Children with ASD can be characterized by intellectual disabilties, difficulties in motor coordination, attention, and physical health issues. Each child with ASD is very different and can have different disabilities associated with social interaction and verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and repetitive behaviors. It is important for buddies to have a calm even tone, spell out directions clearly for their buddy, avoid startling them, and try to identify sign of stress and anxiety.

Just a Few Tips:

-Practice using “People First” language

– Focus on the child’s abilities rather than disabilities

– Be patient with your buddy, they may be a little slower than children you are used to being around

– Allow your buddy to be as independent as possible but make sure you are there to help when needed and keep them safe

– Even if the child you are helping cannot talk continue to talk to them as they can hear you and you never know how much they can understand

– Stay positive and don’t forget to use encouragement. Just have fun!

Mild & Significant Developmental Delay

Children classified as mild or significant developmentally delayed are still able to learn new skills but it may take them a bit longer to master them. Children with intellectual disabilities struggle with intellectual behaviors and adaptive behaviors. Buddies should be sure to encourage their child and allow them to do as much as they can independently while also praising them for trying new activities. As with any child with a disability it is important to be patient, focus on the child strengths, and come in with a positive

Other Health Impaired

Children who identify as “other health impaired refer to children who have a disability caused by a condition, disease, disorder, or injury that significantly influences strength, vitality and alertness. Children with other health impairments can include chronic and acute diseases such as attention deficit disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, sickle cell anemia, Tourette Syndrome, or heart conditions. Since this diagnosis covers a variety of conditions and disabilities it is important to try and learn as much about the child’s abilities from the parents before interacting with the child.