Are you new to the special needs community?
Either way, if you are or if you aren’t, it’s important to be knowledgable. Our community is vast and ever growing. Whether you come across special needs with your student, sibling, cousin, friends brother, or someone who bags your groceries; it’s important to be knowledgable.
Some advise I have is first to look up information on the special need that you are coming into contact with. It can greatly help you in being understanding towards that person and can help improve your patience level as well. Moreover, like I just said, when you do come into contact with someone with special needs you need to be open, understanding, and patient. It’ll take you just a few extra minutes of your life to explain things in a way that they can understand while remaining respectful of them.
Respect is something a lot of people seem to be lacking when they approach someone with special needs. If they are an adult for example, out on their own living their own life, don’t call them cute. They are not children they are not pets, treat them how you would any other adult just with a clearer vernacular.
Also, when communicating with any person with special needs get to an eye to eye level. It’s both respectful and helpful for a basic understanding of one another.
Also, negative behavior needs to not be reinforced. For example: I’ve had a kid that wanted my attention, so he filled his mouth with water and spit it all over me. Just like any other person, bad behaviors get punishments. For him, I scolded him and said “if you aren’t going to be nice then I’m not going to play with you” and went into the other room. Some other things you can do would be to proceed with the activity, if they acted out in order to get out of doing it; or take away a privilege. Locking a child in time out is NOT appropriate however. If you are not sure if something is the correct way of doing it, ask a supervisor or the kids case worker.
In particular, if you are working or teaching someone with special needs it’s important to keep a couple things in mind. For starters, BE PATIENT! Any type of agenda you have needs to be put to rest, you have to base your day to day activities and tasks off of that individual. Just like you and me, we don’t all think or learn the same way.
Also, try and set up a step to step program that leaves room for their success. Like if you’re teaching someone with special needs to bake a cake:
1. First before anyone gets there you need to make sure your supplies is all ready, I would also suggest prepouring out ingredients to make it simple, that is until you learn more about your kids and their capabilities.
2. Then upon your students arrival, you’d inform them of what you will be doing “we’re going to bake a cake today.”
3. Next you need to give them maybe 2-3 step instructions (some may or may not be able to do this) “ok first we want to pour the white cup into the bowl, then pour the blue cup” very simple. Walk around and make sure your being understood. If someone is struggling, stop and help them. Hand over hand works really well, just be sure to explain what you’re doing to them so they have the kinesthetic, visual, and auditory means of learning.
4. Always praise, it’s very encouraging for our kids. Specific praises are nice too. “Good job Becky, I know that was hard at first but you really got it! Good job.”
5. Then move on to the next steps, same system.
6. If you have continuing students in this situation give them an opportunity to be successful. “hello everyone, do we remember what were doing today?” “do we remember what we do after we mix the batter?”
7. Then praise and smile!
Everything gets a lot easier after you learn the finer details to your kids. And it’s so important that you remember those details for when you’re teaching or aiding.
Overall, it is fundamentally important to be understanding and patient. And these things do take time and practice. So also be patient with your self, no ones perfect and most individuals with special needs are incredibly gifted at being patient and understanding with us.