How to help special needs children- loving them is the key!

Today I’m so excited to introduce to you a new-found friend at Wealthy Affiliate who works with special needs children for a long time and is so passionate about it.

Her name is Angela but the kids usually call her Mrs N ( N being the first letter of her last name, which the kids apparently have a hard time saying it. It’s kind of a tongue-twister, you know! )

We have an advertising relationship with the stores or affiliate sites we link in this post. We get a commission when you click and buy products or services with them. Your fees are not affected at all.

How did I find her ? 

The Wealthy Affiliate community has this  “helping each other succeed” attitude and one day, she posted a comment in one of my blogs where she said she is a Special Needs Educational Assistant, so I emailed and asked her if she wanted to share her experiences in her job.

She was very nice to reply and said yes! 

 So here goes her story on how to help special needs children, which basically starts with loving all kinds of kids.

BTW, she is also the founder of Your Aromatherapy Store, so please check her out on her website https://youraromatherapystore.com

Being a Special Educational Assistant is a calling.

How many years have you been a Special Needs Educational Assistant ( SNEA )? Please elaborate on what you do.

“I have spent the last 19 years working as a SNEA in specialized diagnostic classrooms located in a rehabilitation hospital. This hospital has a contract with the local school board to provide educational services to the students while they are in program in the hospital.

The program I work with uses a team approach to assess the children. Our team consists of a teacher, an assistant ( me ), a nurse, physiotherapist, physiotherapist assistant, speech and language pathologist, speech and language assistant, a pediatrician, and a neurologist.

The classroom I work in services children in grades 1-3. The students who attend our classroom have been referred by physicians. They come as day patients for six weeks. Some reasons for referral can include: learning difficulties, social issues, speech and language concerns, neurological queries, physical issues and medication trials. Numerous testing and evaluations are completed during their stay.

After six weeks with us, the students may return to their previous schools or another more appropriate classroom in the community that better suits their needs.”

What groups of special kids are you handling?

“The groups of students that I work with changes five times throughout the school year. Every group is unique. Some are quite easy to work with and some are quite challenging depending on their needs.”

What motivated you to become a Special Needs Educational Assistant?

” Many years ago, I was employed in a group home that was providing service to some children from out of province. 

During that time, it was decided that these children needed to be in school. The school board created a classroom to support their needs. 

The classroom needed an assistant and since I knew the children well, I decided to apply for the job. When these particular children left the province and returned to their homes, I continued my employment with the school board and began working in the diagnostic program in the rehabilitation hospital.

That was almost 20 years ago now. Time sure flies! “

How do you work with the Special Education teacher on a typical day?

” Every morning I greet the children and parents from their buses. If medications are needed, we stop to see the nurse before heading outside for some fresh air before school begins. At the end of recess, we go to our classroom and begin the day.

I lead circle time, using the smartboard, while the Special Education teacher works with the children one on one to assess their reading skills.

( During the six week stay, the students are taken out of the classroom regularly for assessments and tests by our team members. )

When it is time for recess, I take the children out to the public playground ( on the hospital premises ).

 I also spend lunch time with them. At times, some of our students have eating issues that need to be monitored and any problems reported to the healthcare professionals on our team.

Much of my day is spent assisting the teacher and professionals that work in our classroom. My duties can change depending on what the children need.

At the end of the day, I make sure the students meet up with their parents or get on their proper buses to go home.”

Do you have any struggles or big challenges on being a Special Needs Educational Assistant?

” The only challenge or struggle that I can think of is building a relationship with children in a six week time frame. It often feels like I am just getting to really know them and then it is time for them to leave our program. There is nothing I can do about this, as it is just the nature of the way things work in our classroom.

Other than that, I don’t have any BIG challenges or struggles. I am so blessed to work with a team of people who are always there and ready to lend a hand when needed.”

How do you handle a very difficult child?

Sometimes, I find I need to change my expectations. If a child is unable to sit still, be quiet, finish work, walk in line down the hallway, etc., it’s okay. Some children are just not capable of doing these things. They don’t mean to be disobedient and they are not always intentionally trying to disobey the rules.

I try to show them understanding and love.

There have been times that I cannot change my expectations for safety reasons. The student must listen and obey. For example, if at the end of recess and a student refuses to leave the playground with the group, I will kindly explain to them the reasons why they can’t stay on their own and if need be, they will be helped back to the classroom. I do this in a patient way and they will usually comply. 

In our classroom, we have a time out chair. When we are introducing the children to the classroom, we NEVER present it to them as such. We call it a Calming Chair and we invite them to use it on their own whenever they are feeling upset or just need a break.

When it is positively presented this way, instead of in a negative way, I find many children will just go there on their own before any escalation begins.

It’s so neat to see kids make use of this Calming Chair on their own.”

How are the parents involved in the progress of their kids? Do you take an active role in talking to the parents about this or any concern at all?

” There are numerous meetings with parents throughout the six week term.

There is an intake meeting with the team prior to program starting.

There are two meetings at the end of the term where the team meets with parents and then with the parents and the school to present the findings of all the diagnostic testing and assessments.

During the term, the team and parents communicate via a book that is sent back and forth between home and school.

If the parents would like, they are also invited to do an observation visit. This means they are welcome to watch the program through a one way mirror and if they have questions during observation, they have access to a medical professional whom they can ask.

I am not involved in the meeting per se. I will often communicate with parents in an informal manner at bus times. If important questions or concerns arise, I will pass them on to the appropriate person on the team.”

How do you feel at the end of a school day?

 There are days that I go home mentally exhausted and some days I am just fine. It all depends on the particular group of kids that we have in the program at that time. “

What makes you happy or fulfilled on a certain day?

Just being around kids makes me happy.

My job is generally fulfilling, in that, it is great to see kids getting the help they need.

When they leave our program, they usually leave with their school or parents having a better understanding about how to help them.

Perhaps they will leave with a diagnosis that will provide them with extra resources that might make life easier, maybe a medication to make them feel better.

Honestly, most days are quite fulfilling and I love that part of my job. “

Any advise/s on those who want to pursue a career as a Special Needs Educational Assistant?

 You have to love kids, all kinds of kids to do this job. 

To be honest, you need to be okey with a little excitement, too.

There are days when the children are in bad mood, they might try to hit, kick, punch, etc. You need to be aware of your personal space and know who and what to watch for.

I learned the hard way many years ago. I was trying to help a child who was very upset. I ended up with two black eyes, I should have not been in the child’s space. I could have helped him from a little further back and not had the injury.

That only happened once, that is all it took, I learned about personal space and body positioning, ha ha!

Despite the potential for things to go bad, and they do, there are many, many moments that make all  so worth it.

I guess, I am saying if a person wants to pursue this kind of career, it is best that they have tough skin, so to speak. “

How do you de-stress after a difficult day?

 There are usually a few minutes of time left at work after the students leave, if there has been some difficulty, we usually de-brief as a team to discuss it. I find this helpful.

When I get home, I like to do some mindful meditation or yoga, to de-stress as well. “

There’s a point in our career that we realize we have made a difference in someone’s life, in your case a special child’s life. Please share with our readers.

” I have been fortunate enough to be involved in the process of changing many children’s lives. It might be a diagnosis, a medication, or strategies.

Most children we see in our program leave with some help that will benefit them for a lifetime. I love this part of the job.

Sometimes, the kids come back and visit us years later. It is so rewarding to see the progress they have made and to know that we were a little part of it. “

What is the best lesson that you have learned from a special child/ren?

” I have met many children during my career, it is hard to pinpoint just one child and one lesson that I learned.

I have learned much in the last two decades. I suppose the biggest and most important thing I have learned from children is this, “ It is possible to be happy and enjoy life, despite all obstacles. “

I have seen so many kids with so much going against them and somehow they still go on and make the best of it. “

 

Working with kids has been bringing joy and still is to Angela, our dear Special Needs Educational Assistant. She has started her career with the greatest lesson in life, “Love the kids, all kinds of kids.”

And then every working day is a miracle unfold.

Thanks so much Ms N for sharing your experiences. You are an inspiration to others who would like to embark on the same career as yours.

 

Would you like to know Angela better and find out her other passions? Please follow her and visit her website youraromatherapystore.com.

 

Is your child with special needs bonding really well with her Special Needs Educational Assistant? Share your story with us.

"We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, which provides a means for us to earn a commission when you click our link and you purchase from Amazon.com. Buying with no additional cost means helping the Special Education of kids in Romblon, Philippines."

 

School is almost here! Are you done buying and preparing the school essentials for your special child? Click here to read the checklist and learn some tips on what to buy.

.Check out your back to school checklist if you have missed anything.


 

 

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Back to school checklist-what to buy and prepare for your child with special needs

School is just around the corner.  Or it has actually started in other parts of the world. 

I guess the kids have mixed feelings. 

Some maybe excited to see their teachers and classmates once again.

Others may feel a little bit sad that summer vacation will be done and they will be missing the late night sleep and sleeping in the following morning, the campings, the out of towns, the never ending video games, etc. 

For your child with special needs, they may have the same mixed feelings.

I guess they are more excited than the regular kids. I know they show more enthusiasm and elation.

They are more open to express their joy and eagerness to be back on track.

How about the first timers? Is your child with special needs starting school just this year? How does he or she feel about it?

Maybe a little bit nervous to be out there on his own? Or also excited to be with other kids his age?

Of course I’m talking about those kids who are verbal and could express themselves already.

For the non-verbal ones, I guess the parents are the ones who are either nervous or excited.

 

 

So, my dear parents, have you started buying the things that your child needs come school opening or you already have bought some essentials way back in June or July and just about to complete the list?

This post maybe a little bit late but I’m sure it’s still very helpful for that final look for school must-haves.

I have prepared a back to school checklist-what to buy and prepare for your child with special needs, so be ready to check out what you still need.

 

 

 

1. Adaptive stroller

  • If your child is still non-ambulatory or is walking but gets tired easily, this is really essential.
Getting ready for school, in adaptive stroller
Ready for first day of school
The school bus is here!
Riding the school bus is a breeze with the adaptive stroller with a transit  tie-down.
  • These strollers are usually what they sit on in the classroom as well, so choose properly with the help of his therapist or rehabilitation doctor.

Click here for some choices of adaptive strollers

 

2. School bag

  • This is very important as well. 
  • You have to consider a few things though. If your child has attended school the previous year, you might not need to buy a new one if his bag is still useful.
  •  I know kids always want something new, but if you feel his old one still looks okey, a little talk with your kid might be all you need to let him know that he doesn’t need a new one.
  • Anyway, if you’re ready to purchase a new one, keep some things in mind before buying. How big does your child need? Big enough to put his sweater or jacket in winter?
  •  Will his lunchbag plus some school essentials like his planner and pencil case fit in comfortably?
  • How heavy will it be with all the essentials in there? Think of his back for all the time that he will be carrying his bag. Is it a long walk from his classroom to the parking lot or to the bus stop?
  • Does he need just a back pack or a school bag with wheels?

Please see some choices below. Click the image to see the price.

Unicorn backpackBatman backpack Cars backpack

Click here for more choices of backpacks

 

 

3. Lunch bag / kit

  • The size will depend on how many hours is your special child staying in school or the time of his class. 
  • If he is in school for just 2 hours, more or less, then he needs to bring in snacks only but if his school time is done just about lunch time maybe you need to pack lunch for him.
  • Consider packing a crunchy snack because chewing is great for reducing stress and a good concentration tool.
  • Of course during recess, your special child needs to eat something to reward him for a good day or to sustain his interest to learn his lessons.

  Look at these awesome lunch bags that your kid might love.  Click the image to see the price.

  Frozen lunchbag Pink lunchbag  

 

 

 

4. Water bottle

  • A 2 glass water bottle is also an essential part of his bag. He needs to be hydrated at all times so he will not be sluggish and will continue to be receptive of the day’s lessons.
  •  After a hectic  or an active day, your special child needs to drink his juice or plain water ( the healthier option ), so be sure to fill his water bottle to the brim!
  • Make sure to buy a BPA and PVC free water bottle which has leak proof lid with cap

Here are some awesome water bottles, click the image to see the price

Paw patrol water bottleSpiderman water bottleHearts water bottle

 

 

 

5. Pencil case

  • Choose something that is spacious enough to fit in his pencils, markers, and sharpeners.
  • Your special child will love opening and using a pencil case with designs that he loves like animal prints or his favorite cartoon character.
  • Having a pencil case will teach your special child to organize his stuff and put them back properly to where they belong. This develops in him responsibility. 

  Here are some choices. Click the image to see the price.

Superhero pencil caseMinnie mouse pencil casePaw patrol pencil case

 

 

6. Pencils, markers, and crayons

  • Buy as many as you can.
  • Your special child may just be starting to scribble or just beginning  to learn how to hold a pencil, but the more choices he has, the more chances of getting him excited to do his part in learning how to write.
  • If possible, buy the big grip pencils and crayons or markers.

 Here are some choices. Click on the image to see the price.

        Emoji pencils     Crayola markersJumbo crayons

 

 

 

  • You can also buy some additives that will be useful for your special child such as these  pencil grips for perfect grip for him to be inspired to write or scribble as much as he can.
  • These are useful even if the pencil is small.

Click the image to see the price ( pencil grips and erasers )

Pencil gripsEmoji erasers

 

 

 

  • Your child’s teacher or school might have these items provided, but it is still best to buy so your child will have something to use at home for his homework or just for practice.  

7. Notebooks

  • Buy those with beautiful covers that your child with special needs would love to open time and again. Designs that would let him smile and giggle and get him inspired to write down because his favorie animal or cartoon character is in the cover.
  • Those with lines are the most essential ones so your child will learn how to write with proper alignment. If possible choose notebooks with three lines, so he will be guided how to write big and small letters properly.
  • These colorful notebooks will delight your special kids.

  Click the image to see the price.

Tiger notebook              Unicorn notebook

More choices here.

 

 

8. School shoes ( and socks )

  • Find shoes that are most comfortable on his feet. You would not want your kid to be coming home limping with sore ankles because his shoes is too tight that he develops a blister after a day’s wear.
  • They should  just be the right size so your child can run or walk without difficulty while playing in the playground or doing tag with his friends and classmates.
  • Socks that will allow his feet to breathe  properly even in winter are a must. Buy socks that he can wear depending  on  the weather outside.

   Click the image to see the price for some choices of  girls’ and boys’ sneakers/ shoes.

Blue sneakers   Skechers sneakers    Reebook girl's shoesGirls' black shoes

 

 

 

 

 

9. Sweaters/ Pull overs

  • Always let your child wear a sweater or a pull over on top of his shirt  because it will usually be cold outside once school starts or put it in his bag if it is warm, so he can wear it if the weather changes.
  • This is really important if your special one still cannot express his feelings.
  • Again, sweaters with awesome designs will become a favorite of your kid. Also match the color of his sneakers with his sweater. 

Click the image to see the price of the awesome sweater  your special one will love to wear on the first day of school.

Adidas sweatshirtPink sweater for your little girl

 

Click the image above to see more choices

10. Clothes and accessories

  • If there is no uniform in the school that your child goes to, you may need to buy a few set of clothes especially those that he can wear and show off on the first day or week of school. 
  • He will always be proud showing off to his teacher and classmates a blouse or shirt with his all-time favorite cartoon character  or a shirt which is his favorite color.

Click the image to see the price.

Just a girl shirt   Long sleeve boy's shirt  Pink shirtWhite shirts

Click here for more choices of clothes for your child with special needs

  • Your little girl’s hair will be pretty either tied or with an awesome bow.

Click the image to see the price.

    Goody hair tiesHair bows

 

 

 

  • A cute beannie hat ( and mitts ) for your little boy or  girl that can match his or her backpack and shirt will be useful to keep his or her  head safe from some cold or draft at the start of fall.

Click the image to see the price.

                  Starwars beannie and mittsFrozen beannie and mitts

 

 

 

Weighted vests,  ( also works like weighted blankets ), like these below would be very helpful as well if your child has a hard time focusing in school. When worn, it relaxes the child and allays his anxiety.

11. Calming toy or pillow

  • Let him bring to school his favorite toy or pillow for calming effect especially if it is his first time to attend school. This will really be helpful to allay his fears and anxiety. 
  • You can allow him to bring it to school on the first day or week or the whole school year whichever he prefers. 
  • Your special child will be more focused with his school work if he has these handy.

If you are planning to buy, read some suggestions here.

  Click the image to see the price of the calming pillows

Calming pillows
“We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provides a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no added cost to you. When you buy, you are able to help in the Special Education of kids with special needs in Romblon, Philippines.”

Are you ready for school?

There you go, my dear parents, have you looked into the list of school essentials that your little one needs for his first day of  school? Did I forget anything? Hope not.

Anyway, most of the time, kids want to show off to their classmates or teachers their new backpacks, new clothes, new pencil case, etc, so I suggest buy him something new , even though some are recycled from last year or the previous years or maybe hand me downs from older siblings or cousins.

 I remember when my son was in the elementary, even though we just buy his schoolbag from the thrift store, he was so excited to show off his “new” backpack to his friends and he was proud to show off how many pockets it contains, the awesome design, etc. 

I guess even our special kids would love to show off their stuff to his teachers and classmates, so as parents, let us try to be aware that this is something that our kids get excited about school.

We don’t want him to hate his school bag or lunch bag that would ruin his enthusiasm to go to school everyday.

There’s this excitement or some fears on the first day of school that something ” new ”  especially if it’s his favorite toy or marker or shoes or top or bag and if his classmate or friend also likes it, it will be a big factor for your special child to have a reason each day to get excited to come back to school everyday.

Let the start of school be something that your special one will look forward to with an AWESOME school essential.

Happy shopping!

 

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What is your special child’s favorite cartoon character that he wants for his backpack?  Have you bought or prepared all the essentials for his school this year?

As parents, are you excited that your special one is up to another school year of learning and discovering new things?

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