For the past 7 years I have volunteer my some of my free time to help special need kids at the local elementary school, we work on projects like learning empathy, behavior management, and yes,. you guess it.. Art. I love art, I’m a musician right? so I love anything creative. And you think all art would come to me easily right?.. wrong!.. I can draw for peanuts, but my students do.
I get the creative juices out of them, encouraging them to be artist, to do something that would make them proud and happy,. How many things can you think of that can make you proud and happy?..
Some of my students have difficulty holding a pen so I encourage them to try different things, different ways, encourage them to do things that works for them. One of my jobs is to give them the confident to try their best despite criticism from their peers.
The Special need population continues to grow, more and more scout leaders, soccer coaches, instructors, librarians, music teachers and other adults are finding themselves working with these children for the first time, even some teachers who are highly trained in their field, but have little or no knowledge of disabilities or how to deal with these challenge students.
You need to keep in mind that working with special need students require interaction, observation, some children with special needs perceive sensory input in different ways and may be unable to verbalize discomfort. All behavior is communication.
Be flexible, be consistent, have a plan, in the world of special needs, there is always a Plan B, and usually a Plan C. Be positive. But the number one quality when working with little people I learn all these years is to have good common sense. Most professionals in the field I find they go about too much by the book because that’s what they learned in university and just want to meet their data target.
Don’t get me wrong, not everyone works like that. A good percentage of kids with disabilities just want to connect and have fun in the process. A positive attitude is a very important quality for anyone who works with children with special needs. I’ve seen highly trained specialists unable to interact with certain students because of their negative attitude and assumptions. But some people with no experience or knowledge of their disability have jumped right in and changed their lives for the better.
I’m very proud of my students, Its heartbreaking to see them go to another school or move to another town, Its good to see them discovering their strength, using technology to learn new things, envisioning future careers, seeing them work in a positive environment but most of all its very satisfying to see them try their best and be able to move on.