When young people with disability are involved in activities or events in your service, they might need specific supports. We encourage you to work with the young person to figure out how they would like you to support them. Knowing what to do in specific circumstances is not as important as having a proactive, positive attitude towards ‘making it work’. Let them tell you how they want to be supported.
Some things to keep in mind:
- Be polite and patient when offering assistance and wait until your offer is accepted or declined.
- Listen or ask for specific instructions.
- Be prepared for your offer to be refused.
- Don’t assume that a person with a disability can’t handle themselves or make their own decisions.
- They know their disability the best and know what they can and can’t do.
- Be patient with people with a disability and pay attention, especially with someone who speaks slowly or with great effort.
- Be considerate of the extra time it might take for a person to do or say something.
- Never pretend to understand what a person is saying if you don’t.
- You can politely ask the person to repeat or rephrase what they’ve said or offer them a pen and paper to write it down.
- People with a disability are the experts of their own disability so they are the best person to explain how to support them.
- A wheelchair is not a place for you to hold your bags.
- Unlock and unblock accessible ramps and doors.
- Think more about access rather than disability. What can you do to make your service more accessible?
- If you don’t know how to support someone, just ask them!
- Never pat, touch or talk to a guide dog while the dog is working or when the dog is in a harness. Always ask permission and remember that sometimes the owner may say no.
Here are some disability specific resources that explain how to support young people with disability. For tips on communicating with young people with disability read this article. Remember though, always talk to the person – they know best!
Guiding and supporting young people who are blind or have a vision impairment – Vision Australia
Understanding 8 facts about using a wheelchair – Aruma
Understanding guide dog etiquette – Guide Dogs Australia
Information about Autism Spectrum Disorder in poster format
Working with a person with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism) and creating a positive environment for an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder