Until recently, mentoring programs did not specifically target youth with disabilities. However, mentoring youth with disabilities show potential benefits such as; enhanced self-esteem, improved social competences, and independent living skills.
Children with disabilities are more likely to be victims of peer aggression and social exclusion because they often do not have the protective function of friendships.
Therefore, mentoring may be a good resource for them to build new friendships and other social networks which can facilitate their development.
Whilst there are no right or wrong methods for mentoring youth with special needs and there’s no one size fits all, a recent study showed that E-mentoring can be empowering for these children.
“Allow them to reach for their dreams, regardless of how impossible it may seem. Encourage them when the going gets rough, let them work at it themselves to achieve their dreams, and be there to say, “ job well done!” when they make it. ( deaf student who made it to college).
Finally, parents, teachers, and society need to understand that disabilities are merely factors of life, not life itself. Parents of disabled children should teach them to accept their disabilities and then encourage them to lead their lives to the utmost normalcy.
Catherine Perri – JUMP Trainer