Disclosing a disability to peers

A secondary school setting may offer opportunities for students with disability to meet more peers with similar lived experiences, which can create a more supportive and less isolating environment. Learning in high schools allows for student choice in some specialist subjects. This allows students to meet more friends with similar strengths and interests. 

In some cases, a student and their family may wish to disclose their disability to peers. This is a decision for the student and their family to make.  Developing and fostering positive peer perceptions of disability is important for social inclusion of a student with disability. There are a number of ways in which this can be done, including inviting an expert to talk with the class or providing opportunities for the student and their family to share.

When shaping peer perceptions, help peers understand the importance of friendship, to recognise ways in which all students are similar (such as, all students having strengths and skills), and help them identify the ways in which they can be inclusive. 

For example, you could teach students ways to connect with their peers, and how they can be inclusive and respectful of their peers by considering diverse abilities and preferences. For example, students can be inclusive of their peers by keeping noise levels within limits for a student who is distressed by loud noise, or keeping shared spaces clear of clutter for students who are blind or have low vision or have a physical disability. 

Our peer information sheets provide many practical examples of how students can be inclusive of peers with disability.

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