Lesson 5: Request, Accept, and Decline Assistance

Handshake through a computer

Name(s) of student(s):

Age and grade level:

Goal from IEP connected to lesson:

Objective from IEP connected to lesson:

Purpose of lesson: To politely and assertively request, accept, or decline assistance.

Materials needed: Field trip opportunity


“As a problem solver, you will inevitably need to request, accept, or decline assistance. We will discuss accomplishing this assertively and politely.”

Discussion: Interdependence

“People are interdependent. This means we mutually support one another in a variety of relationships. For example, we receive services (meals at restaurants, lawn maintenance, public transportation) in exchange for payment. As a more personal example, good friendships are mutually, emotionally satisfying.”

State the following points:

  • There are certain activities you will need help with, and that’s perfectly acceptable.
  • There are certain activities you will want help with, and that’s perfectly acceptable.
  • You can ask for insight or assistance from another. Take care to maintain interdependence. The key to interdependence is reciprocity (give-and-take).
  • If you are always the one giving or always the one taking, that is not a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Establish boundaries if another person is always asking something of you and it feels unbalanced. (Example: “I can help you with your homework on Thursday evenings, but alternative evenings don’t work well for me.”)
  • If you consistently ask for assistance from another, diversify whom you ask (don’t burn out one friend by only requesting her help), return a favor, compensate your friend’s expenses, and learn to accomplish the task independently if possible.

Exercise: Establishing Reciprocity

Help the student determine a plan to establish reciprocity in the following situations:

  • Maggie wants to ask a classmate to take notes for her while her Braillenote is serviced.
  • De’Ron wants to ask his older sibling to drive him to a late-night birthday party.
  • Jane’s neighbor asks her to babysit without payment every weekend.

Discussion: Polite Requests

“When requesting insight, information, or assistance, remember to say please and thank you and stay clear of making demands. “Would you be willing to help with…?” instead of “Help me with…”. Additionally, if the request is substantial, be sure to state how you can reciprocate the favor and/or provide compensation.”

Discussion: Accepting Assistance

“When you are offered assistance you need or want to accept, express gratitude. If the assistance costs the individual significant time, ask if you can return the favor. If the assistance costs the individual money, compensate him or her. For example, if you accept a ride from a friend, offer to purchase the driver a coffee or lunch.”

Discussion: Declining Assistance

“When you are offered assistance you do not need or want, politely decline and be firm when necessary. State your appreciation and inform the willing individual you “have it” or “want to try it on your own.” You may encounter unwanted physical assistance. In this event, gently pull away and say, “No, thank you. I have it.”

“In American culture, politely declining offered assistance is not offensive. The individual likely does not know your proficiencies and the opportunity will build awareness of your capabilities.”

Exercise: Real-World Practice

Create an opportunity for the student to practice requesting, accepting, or declining assistance.  Consider a field trip with a small group of students to an unfamiliar ice cream shop.

Exercise: Fundraising Project

Students should request, accept, and decline assistance and/or support in the fundraising endeavor.


“Today, we learned to request, accept, and decline assistance politely. We also highlighted the importance of reciprocal relationships.”

Progress notes, data collection, comments, and modifications: