Tell Me About the Kids I Might Work With - Life.Church Leaders

Tell Me About the Kids I Might Work With

First of all, it’s worth remembering: A child may have an identified difference or disability, but that does not always mean they need the additional support of a Buddy. Buddies are assigned to any child who is dysregulated and demonstrating their emotional, cognitive, or sensory systems are overloaded for any reason. For example: A two-year-old might be dealing with a head cold one weekend. That child may require your assistance to be able to stay comfortable. This list will give you some examples of a few of the special needs many of our kids who have a Buddy display.

  1. A child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
    • This child may have difficulty with language. They may not be able to speak and may not understand all the words they hear. A child with high functioning autism may have an enormous vocabulary, but may be unable to talk about anything outside of their special interest area (such as dinosaurs or trains).
    • This child may not have age-appropriate social skills like sharing, turn-taking, waiting in line, etc. They may not understand that the adult in the room is also the authority in the room. They may have no interest in playing with other children (or you).
    • This child may become easily overstimulated by their senses. They may seem to over-react to smells or become very upset if they touch something sticky. They may strongly dislike touch, even a gentle one. Or, they may crave deep pressure like a bear hug.
    • They may engage in repetitive play, where they want to repeat an activity they like nearly endlessly. For example, they may like to flick a light switch on and off for hours or sit on the floor and rock back and forth.
    • They may need support to follow instruction, sit with a group, work independently from a group as needed, to remain inside the room without running off, to take breaks as needed, or to help keep their senses regulated.
  2. A child has a vision impairment.
    • This child may be blind, have low vision, or have a modified field of vision.
    • They may need support to follow visually cued directions, to move around the room, to interact with other kids, or to follow along with videos.
  3. A child has a hearing impairment.
    • This child will have hearing loss. They may hear your words very faintly, or they may hear no sound at all.
    • They may need support to follow audial directions, to interact with other kids, or to follow along with videos.
  4. A child has a physical disability.
    • This child may come to LifeKids in a wheelchair, have braces on their legs, or have other mobility or dexterity limitations.
    • Many kids with physical disabilities do well in our rooms without the extra support of a Buddy. They may need support to interact with other children and to move through the room. Some may have other needs and will benefit from extra support based on those additional needs.
  5. A child has a significant Attention Deficit Disorder and/or Hyperactivity Disorder.
    • This child may not be able to focus or may become distracted very easily.
    • This child may be hyperactive, have difficulty calming down after stimulating physical activity, or may be restless when transitioning from free play to more structured group activities.
    • This child may have trouble complying with requests and directions quickly. It may be difficult for them to switch focus from what they’re doing to what you have asked them to do.
    • This child may need support to interact appropriately with their peers, to follow instructions, to take breaks as needed, and to keep their attention focused through sensory regulation, fidget toys, etc.
  6. A child has Sensory Integration Disorder or a Sensory Processing Disorder.
    • This child’s senses work together in atypical or unexpected ways.
    • They may have difficulty processing more than one sense at a time. For example, they may have to alternate between watching your face and listening to your words.
    • They may dislike a gentle pat on the head, but love rough and tumble play (or vice versa).
    • This child may need support such as frequent movement or sensory breaks, headphones, calming toys, etc.
  7. A child who has a seizure disorder.
    • This child has a neurologic condition that may cause a brief disruption in the function of their body or mind. They may blink, fall asleep, convulse, need to be reoriented to time and place, have a change in mood, or have their behavior affected.
    • They may need to wear a helmet to keep them safe in case of a fall.
    • This child may need support if they have cognitive delay to help them understand what’s expected of them. They will need support if they have a seizure, as directed by their parent or guardian.
  8. A child has Down Syndrome.
    • The child will be behind their peers developmentally. They may have fewer words or be less coordinated than the other children in the class, or they may have trouble taking turns and interacting with peers in a socially appropriate way.
    • About half of children with Down Syndrome may also have a vision or hearing problem.
    • This child may need support to help them understand what’s expected of them, to socialize with their peers appropriately, or to follow instruction.
  9. A child has a history of neglect or abuse.
    • They may have severe trust issues.
    • They may respond to adult authority in their classroom in unexpected ways. For example, they may obey instructions given only by leaders of a specific gender or be overly timid or defiant around adults.
    • This child may need support to feel safe and secure in their surroundings. They may need breaks to keep their sensory systems regulated. They may need help following adult-directed portions of the experience.

Please remember, these are just a few, minimal descriptions of what some of the children you’re serving might be dealing with. You will not work with a child who neatly fits into any particular “box.” That much is certain! You will work with children who demonstrate a need for support and a real friend. You will be that friend, and you will help your special LifeKid find their sense of belonging at church.

Always reach out to your campus staff, to your fellow Buddies, the Holy Spirit, and to your child’s parents if you encounter any behaviors that you’re finding especially challenging to understand or signs that the child is uncomfortable despite what you’ve tried so far. You’re not in this alone. There will be a strategy that will help your special LifeKid feel safe and loved. And with God’s help, you’ll find how to implement that strategy and show God’s love to a child in a new way!