You will never forget the experience of working with special needs kids. I have spent many afternoons volunteering with visually impaired children and I have worked 6 years as an autism paraprofessional in the home and community settings. I’ve been challenged and I have been greatly rewarded for the time that I have spent with these great kids. Here are the 5 things I’ve found to be rewarding.
1. Knowing You are Impacting a Child’s Life
When you spend time working with a child with isms, you are helping him or her grow into the person they will become. It’s wonderful to see the child you’ve been working with be able to go up to a classmate and make a new friend after you’ve helped him learn new social skills. Whether you’re helping kids with school work or with social skills, knowing that you’re helping a child flourish with skills that they can use for the rest of their life is priceless.
2. That Feeling when You Help a Child Reach a Goal
They say it’s not the destination, but the journey. The best part of that journey is when a child reaches a goal. No matter how small that goal, it’s always remarkable to watch kids grow and make progress. When I started working with children on the spectrum, many of them were non-verbal or only spoke a few words. After a few months of working with them it was incredibly rewarding to see them start talking in short sentences. For a child to go from no words to speaking in short sentences is a monumental achievement. We can celebrate all achievements, whether they are big or small.
3. Building Creativity and Problem Solving Skills
Using your creativity is a big part of the job when working with kids. You can’t use a one-size-fits all approach when working with children with various isms. One child may love coloring while another child may have a hard time coloring so you need to know how to craft an appropriate session to keep behaviors under control. You must always use your creative juices to keep the momentum going. You are constantly thinking about tailoring lessons unique to the child and solving problems in creative ways.
4. Working with Diverse Needs
You will be working with children with a variety of strengths and challenges. No two children are ever the same. Even if they have the same diagnosis, they each have their unique talents and strengths. Changing lesson plans so that they suit the needs of each individual child can be a challenge but you’ll always be using your brain power and learning new things as you think about how you can meet each child’s diverse needs.
5. Relive your Childhood
Most people see their childhood as the golden years in time past. Working with kids always brings back great memories. As I work with a group a 5 year olds playing make-believe games I remember what it was like to play those games years ago and how much I’ve grown since then. Now I am grateful to be a positive part of another child’s life.
Working with children with various isms can be challenging at times, but it’s highly rewarding. The rewards far outweigh the challenges you face. Working with children with isms will create a special place in your heart and you will never forget the experience. These experiences will positively impact your life forever.