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Working with special needs kids

Special Education teachers need certain qualifications to work with special needs kids such as training and a license and certification. But even more importantly perhaps, they need to have a strong conviction that disabled people are no less than regular people and should be treated the same but in a more patient manner. SPED teachers have a lot of extra paperwork to do because by law they have to write down almost everything they do during the day and the way their students behaved to prove that they are serving them in the best way possible. Not only are they teachers but they are also advocates, coordinators and counselors. They have to be able to work with kids with different types of special needs, on many subjects and help make content accessible.

It is one of the least recognized, but most important jobs in a school.

Senior Bri Paul’s mom Jodi Davidson is a proud Special Ed teacher who works in Biddeford. “Five years ago, I took a class to be a substitute teacher. Coming from the medical field, I thought it would be a fun change in careers and a challenge. Once I earned my certificate, I signed up to substitute teach in the Special Education Department in the middle school because they couldn’t find substitutes. I fell in love with the program and the kids. I decided this was the path I would take and applied to be an Ed Tech in the Special Education Department. Everyday is a new challenge. Everyday is different. The students work so hard to be accepted by the other students and teachers. As an Ed Tech, I help them navigate their way through regular ed classes, social situations and special school events. I am their cheerleader and I take that role very seriously. I teach and role model for them and the rewards are endless. There are days that are difficult. Behaviors can get in the way of learning. Lack of sleep can prevent a child from focusing. Bullying from peers can shut a child down. These are the challenges of the job and can make for an exhausting day. Still, I wake up the next morning, excited to see what obstacles my kids will overcome. Will they be cheered while completing a running unit in gym class? Will they work well when partnered with a peer to complete a science project? Will they use the tools we teach them to form friendships with peers? Over the years, I have learned that my students are strong. They are resilient. They are smart. They are funny. They teach me much more than I could ever teach them. As I look back over the careers I have had, I wish I had gone into teaching out of college. The rewards I receive everyday from these very special students outweigh the challenges and exhaustion. They are always happy to see us. They know we always have their best interests in mind. Although, I am their teacher, ultimately they have been my best teacher!”

Chloe Willette is. a Behavioral Health Professional “Well to be honest, I didn’t know I wanted to work with special needs kids until I started working with them. I had always just really enjoyed being around kids, playing and taking care of them. My experience working with kids was limited to working at a daycare and babysitting prior to getting my job at Back To Basics Behavioral Health Services which is where I work now. It is in Lebanon, Maine but the job isn’t completely centered in Lebanon, I commute from home to clients homes or out in the community.” Willette had no experience working with special needs kids before receiving this position.

“To be able to work with these kids I had to receive my Behavioral Health Professional Certification, among other certifications. I did this by completing an online training program, in person training courses, mandated reporter training, and a CPR/AED training, which was all provided by the company I work for.”

Willette states that she always needs to be on time for this job because her clients count on her to be there. “There is always a specific time for arriving, but the daily schedule varies depending on your clients wants, needs and interest for the day. Sometimes you leave on the set time other times you stay later or leave early. I find one of the best things about being a Behavioral Health Professional is the flexibility of the schedule. However, it is very important that you always arrive at the planned time for the beginning of your shift because your client is expecting your arrival. Working with special needs kids is for the most part just like working with any other kid, there are alot of good moments and there are some challenges. Working with any kid isn’t always easy, and you just have to remind yourself of that while going through those challenges with kids with special needs. There hasn’t been anything challenging enough that has made me want to stop working with these kids. However, I have had to stop working with a particular client for my safety and well being. It’s always a tough decision leaving a client but when it’s for the benefit of both of you, it just has to happen. I’m still young and unsure of what I will do for life, but I do know one thing for sure. That is that I love caring for all people, no matter the age or setting. Whatever path I take in life , that will be the constant.”

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