General Education Teachers

Purpose/Explanation of Peer Buddy Programs 


The purpose of a peer buddy program is to provide a credited elective class for students to gain experience working with same-age peer students with significant cognitive and physical disabilities in educational settings. Peer buddy programs allow for positive social interaction and social relationships to develop between students with and without severe disabilities, as well as provide a natural form of support in the classroom for students with disabilities.

Inclusion/Least Restrictive Environment

Inclusion is the term used when a student with disabilities participates in general education classes with modifications and/or adaptations as determined by the IEP (Individualized Education Program). The modifications and adaptations can include anything from extended time on assignments, modified goals and objectives, adapted tests, specialized seating and positioning requirements, or individualized behavioral plans. Modifications and adaptations depend on the needs of the student related to his or her disability, and his or her specific strengths and weaknesses.

While in an inclusive class, students with disabilities will learn more than just the academics and their own targeted goals, they will also learn valuable social skills that will help them to live successfully in society outside of school. The use of peer buddies in the general education classroom is one way that students with disabilities can be supported in a natural manner.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is the legal term used to determine the appropriate educational environment/ setting for each student with a disability. The LRE is determined by the Admissions and Release Committee (ARC) at the IEP meeting. By law, the ARC must first consider placement in a general education setting, with supports and modifications as necessary. Only if the student cannot be educated satisfactorily with supports and modifications in the general classroom can the ARC recommend a more restrictive placement. The LRE for each student will, of course, depend on the needs of that student, and must be individualized for each student. It can never be assumed that because of a particular disability, a particular setting is appropriate (e.g., all students with severe disabilities should be educated in separate classrooms).

*Note: Click on the FAQs tab at the left to learn answers to many questions that teachers often pose regarding peer buddies and inclusion.