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Six tips for working with special needs children

Tuesday, June 09, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Working with special needs children is a challenge, but it is far from impossible. Whether you are serving as a caregiver, an educator or an aide, these children need your help if they are going to thrive. Sometimes, it is very difficult to figure out what you need to do and when, especially if you have never worked with special needs children before.

Check out the six tips below to get started. At the end of the day, working with special needs children is a rewarding experience. Children require patience: you must be willing to interact with them on their level and they need you to be at your best.

1. Watch for signs of trouble

Special needs students are often considered to be unpredictable, but experienced special ed teachers and caregivers know that’s not always the case. Special needs kids signal their displeasure and their breaking points just like anyone else, but they can be subtle and you must be willing to read them. Watch for signs like stiffness, fidgeting, silence, increases in volume and rocking. If you learn how to read the signals, you can often stop trouble before it starts.

2. Give immediate feedback

If your students have done something right, tell them that they have done well. If they need to stop a certain behavior, communicate this immediately. Special needs students often need a lot of feedback in order to identify what it is they need to do.

3. Be consistent

When you are working with special needs children, you will find that they do their best when they have strong and clear rules in place. If you can keep things the same for them from hour to hour, especially with regards to procedures like cleaning, working and games, they will be much more comfortable and much happier.

4. Explain in different ways

Some students do best with verbal instructions over written ones, and some need the instructions to be explained several times. Learn how the children process information, and use the method that works the best for them.

5. Get help when you need it

If you are nervous about handling a situation or you feel that having another person around would make it easier, do not be afraid to reach out for help. Sometimes, you simply need the backup.

6. Get an online M.Ed. in Special Education

At the end of the day, there is no substitute for comprehensive training. When you earn an online M.Ed. in Special Education, you will learn how to work with students who can be challenging, and you will also gain the authority that is helpful when dealing with administrators and parents alike. Do your research to see if an online M.Ed. in Special Education is right for you and your goals.

When you are working with special needs children, remember that the process gets easier over time. Be patient with your charges, and be patient with yourself.

Learn about University of Texas Rio Grande Valley online M.Ed. in Special Education program.


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