How can my child with a 1:1 aide socialize with peers at school?
An aide can be a great way for a student to access a less restrictive environment by creating inclusive classrooms and supporting their needs as they interact safely with their peers.
Socialization and independence are two major factors when considering a 1:1 aide. A 2010 study published in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities suggests that overusing 1:1 paraeducators can have negative effects on students, including interfering with a child’s ability to form peer relationships, as the presence of an adult aide can create physical or symbolic barriers between the student and their peers and make students feel infantilized or embarrassed about always having an adult with them.
However, for students with more significant support needs, an aide can be crucial for inclusion. In this clip, Renay Marquez explains how independence can (and should!) be an IEP goal, and how that can help students in the long run.
If a 1:1 aide is necessary, efforts should be made to minimize potential negative consequences. Yearly IEP reviews can be used to check in. Ford-Halvorsen tells us that when drafting IEPs for students who have 1:1 aides, “we want to be really explicit about where they continue to need that support and the areas that they don't, so we're having conversations of where we can start to fade some of that support.”
For more on this topic, see our article Paraeducators 101.