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! )

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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 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.

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Special education teaching-facing challenges and feeling fulfilled

I met her and attended to her medical needs when she was still a baby. Then she grew up and I lost track of her.

Until recently, with the power of the internet, I virtually met her again. I think I befriended her sometime on facebook, so I get to read her stories in messenger.

One day, she wrote that she is a Special Education teacher. I engaged with her right then and there and asked her if she would be up for an interview about her career.

And she agreed!

So here goes Ms Rica’s story on Special Education teaching and how she faces challenges, thus becoming better at her job each day, and feeling fulfilled with her career.

 

 

How long have you been teaching?

“I have been in the field for six years and counting.”

Have you been teaching special kids all these years?

“Yes, I am currently a certified Special Education (SPED ) teacher here in the US since August 2016 and I handle students with moderate to severe Emotional Behavior Disorder (EBD), Specific Learning Disability and Developmental Delay. 

In the Philippines, I taught for three years students diagnosed with mild to severe Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Developmental Delay, Mental Retardation, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ( ADHD ), and Attention Deficit Disorder ( ADD ). “

Who motivated you to become a Special Education teacher?

“My mother is an elementary school teacher and even as a kid, I already envisioned myself to follow her footsteps. I would play as a “teacher ” with kid neighbors and relatives as my “pupils”. I loved teaching these small kids and it was always a happy time for us.

But it was my Aunt Mariza, my dad’s sister, who encouraged me to become a Special Education mentor. She said it is a fulfilling career.

My aunt’s influence, coupled with my childhood dream, the example that I saw in my mom, and my reflections on my future all contributed to what I am today. I believe my love for children, be they normal or special also inspired me to follow this path.”

What is your typical day like?

“Everyday ( from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM ) I teach all 24 of my children with special needs with ages ranging from 5-13. With the help of six teacher assistants, I handle the kids from 30 minutes to one and a half hour long depending on their disability, some in groups of 2-4, but I also do “one on one” if with severe impairment.

From 3:00 to 4:00 PM, I do paperwork and meetings. These include checking of worksheets, Individualized Education Program ( IEP ) meetings and helping my teacher assistants do their service logs.

After school, I try to connect online with my family and friends back home. On weekends, I explore beautiful places with local friends.”

Any struggles or big challenges on being a SPED teacher?

“Yes of course, and there’s a lot. Every day has its own story, such as adjusting to your students’ mood swings, pacifying different kind of outbursts and temper tantrums, etc. “

How do you handle a very difficult child?

” There are three major factors that I consider in dealing with a difficult child.

First, is building a connection with the child. I really have to let them feel that I care and want to help them .

Second is identifying the best calming technique that is suitable for that difficult child. Would it be a massage therapy, art therapy, play therapy, the use of behavior charts, chunking method of providing the activities, etc.

Third is to always make sure that you are firm and consistent in implementing the rules or agreement you have with the child because this difficult child may just be testing your patience limit.

Once I have established the good connection and authority as a teacher towards him or her, then I can eventually de-escalate the behavior problem and divert the situation into something positive. “

Do you involve the parents in teaching their kids?

” Yes, this is really important and should not be overlooked.

I am dedicated to helping my students improve their academic and behavioral performances, but when the parents are not doing their part in implementing the suggested IEP goals that I have created for their child, for most instances, there is no progress.

On the contrary, when the parents are doing their part, it is very evident that there is improvement in their child’s overall performance.

Having a strong parent and teacher partnership is essential in the special children’s progress. “

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

” Like a typical teacher, I feel exhausted after school. However, I really feel happy when I am able to control my students’ daily outbursts and help them make a difference in their lives despite their disabilities.”

What makes you happy or fulfilled on a certain day?

” Seeing my students enjoy the tasks given to them and witnessing their progress are the things that truly make my day happy. No amount of money can satisfy that kind of feeling. “

Any advice/s on those who plan to pursue a career as a Special Education teacher?

” Being a SPED teacher is a challenging but a fulfilling job. You need to have more patience, 100% dedication and a big heart for children with special needs.

You must be ready to experience the worst case scenarios. I have been bitten, slapped, spat on, punched and kicked.

I learned my lesson by being alert all the time.

As long as you are truly passionate with your career, it will feel as if you are just doing your “purpose” and not being paid to do a “job”.

How do you de-stress after a difficult day?

” I always communicate with my family especially with my mother and my sister.

I also try to socialize with my friends after work and on weekends.

I make sure I leave work on time and schedule things that I love doing, like hiking, baking, and trying new food and restaurants. “

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

” When I receive flattering comments from the parents, that’s when I know, I am doing my purpose.

I will never forget that time when one of the parents of my students in the Philippines told me that she wanted to adopt me as her daughter because she really likes my attitude and dedication in my chosen career.

In addition to this, a lot of the parents of my former students, and even my tutees in the Philippines were encouraging me to build my own school in the future.

With God’s grace, timing and requirements, I can probably do that, but of course, I need to consider a lot of things and pursue further studies.

Hopefully I will build my own school in the future because it is my dream.

I would really feel exultant and be the happiest person in the whole universe once I achieve that goal. “

 

Lucky for Ms Rica because she has studied something that she loves doing leading to enjoyment in her career, thus she is now so passionate in teaching her students with special needs.

This only goes to show that if we love what we do, struggles become challenges and we can overcome these with acceptance in our hearts that this is just part of the package.

We also welcome these challenges because through them, we learn and become better in our craft.

We hope we can be triumphant with you Ms Rica when that time comes that you will become directress of your very own school for special children.

We wish you all the luck in your future endeavors.

 

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How does your special child thrive in school? Does he enjoy going to school everyday? Does he talk about how his teacher is so kind and helpful? We love to hear your comments. Please post them below.

Fun and function toys

 

Are you a Special Education teacher? Do you feel that you have touched a special child’s heart and have contributed to his or her development or improvement of his disability? Please share your story with us by commenting below.

 

Check out these awesome stuff for your child with special needs. Click on the image to see the price.

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Teaching kids with special needs….took the chance and loving it

She became a Special Education ( SPED ) teacher by chance.

Wanting to raise her  family far from the hustle and  bustle of the city , Teacher FAM  planned on  moving to a new school in the province.

The school that took her in had a spot for a Special Education teacher due to increased enrolment of  kids with special needs. Pretty soon, she delved on scholarship training to become certified as a SPED teacher .

For the past three years, she felt that teaching kids with special needs is her calling. Definitely, she took the chance, and loving it.

Teacher FAM  maybe new in this special field, even in the teaching profession in general, having served for six years only, but deep inside, her heart tells her that this is for her and probably for keeps.

What a nice revelation!

 

Teacher FAM

Q: What group of special kids are you handling?

I teach kids with emotional and behavioural disorder, as well as those with  intellectual and learning disability and Down syndrome.”

Q: Why did you  become a SPED teacher?

“I did not plan on becoming a Special Education teacher. I just took an offer when I moved to a new school. When I began to deal  with my special pupils, I realized my purpose and self-worth.

Gradually, I fell in love with my new pursuit and my passion and love to my pupils grew each day. I became more patient with them and more determined to make a difference in their lives.

I believe GOD gave me this opportunity so I can understand well my niece who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.”

Q: Can you describe your typical day?

“I teach my pupils,  2 at a time for 3 hours . We usually start our class with a prayer, greets to one another and songs. Before we begin the lesson for the day, I ask simple questions like how they are, what they ate for breakfast and what they did before coming to school.

Then, I let them do the daily living skills like mopping the floor, dusting the desks and tables, watering the plants, washing the glasses and plates and washing some handtowels. Letting them do these household chores will develop in them the values of independence  and responsibility.

Our lessons are usually from Monday to Thursday only. On Fridays, they all come together at the same time for play, crafts, zumba class, educational cartoon movies and sometimes, they cook a full meal for themselves, which includes simple dishes like rice, egg and meatloaf.”

 

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Q: I know you have  struggles and challenges in teaching special kids? How do you face them?

“Thinking of strategies to motivate the kids to learn the lessons and remember them is a big challenge for me. Many times, I feel it’s  a struggle for me to see that because of the  kids’ intellectual disabilities, they find it hard to retain what I teach them, thus they forget the lessons easily, so I have to look on their capabilities and conceptualize the proper approach for them to respond positively.

I always have to be patient and repeat the lessons all over again. I believe constant repetition do improve their learning abilities..

Practice makes perfect,  so the saying goes.”

Q: Any strategies in handling a very difficult child?

“This is not an issue for me because I love what I’m doing. I learned in my training how to handle these kids and through the years I have developed passion and devotion  to my career.

It makes me feel fulfilled  and  rewarded to realize that I’m making a big difference in the lives of these children with special needs. It may take long for them to acquire knowledge, but with patience and perseverance, they will eventually learn something and I feel great knowing that I did my best in motivating them to improve their intellectual disabilities.”

 

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Q: Do you involve the parents in teaching their children?

” Involving parents and guardians in teaching their kids is very important. They play a big role in implementing home instructions . I encourage them to observe their kids at home if they follow my suggestions because this gauges  improvement of their children.

My pupils have a journal where  I write down my observations, recommendations and home instructions. I emphasize to the parents that teaching their children is a collaborative effort. They have to read the journals for them to see what assignments their kids need to submit and they should assist them.”

This post contains affiliate links. We might earn a commission when you purchase or sign up to something. Your fees are not at all affected.

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

” I feel great and happy because I know that everyday I impart knowledge to my special kids to prepare them to become productive members of society.

There is a sense of fulfillment seeing them become independent. Also, I’m hopeful that by helping them improve their academic skills, I  am preparing them to be mainstreamed in regular school  to graduate someday.”

Q: Any advise/s to those who want to pursue a career as a Special Education teacher?

Teaching Special Education is not an easy job. It takes a lot of effort and patience to understand children with special needs. You have to always look first at the student’s interest and gain their trust and confidence, so you will get their attention.

It is vital to provide motivation everyday in whatever level of curriculum they are in. No two students are alike. They have their own level of capability when they start with you.

Assess each child thoroughly, so you will discover their unique abilities and needs, and from there, you conceptualize your individual approach for a particular kid .

Most importantly, love them with all your heart and be compassionate.

At the end of the day, you will always feel loved back and it’s very heartwarming. Then you can say, this is really my calling.”

 

 

There you go, even if we don’t plan on our careers, we can always be the best on any endeavor as long as we learn to embrace the opportunities presented to us. 

Teacher FAM maybe a new  mentor in the  field of teaching kids with special needs, but because she has been open to the challenges that she faces everyday, she has learned to LOVE her demanding career.

We salute you teacher FAM for wholeheartedly accepting the challenge.

May your tribe increase!

 

An awesome teacher appreciation gift

 

True story of 6 special kids and

their amazing teacher who embraced them

“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.”

 

Do you know an awesome Special Education teacher? Please share us his/her story. We would love to hear from you. 

If you are a SPED teacher, thank you for all the work that you do. Please connect with us so we can let our readers know about how passionate you are with your craft.

Please post your comments below.

 

Therapist picks for your special kids. Click on the image to see the price.

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Transformer sensory sack to help special kids relax
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On becoming a Special Education teacher- getting to know the kids’ second parent

Being a teacher is a gift.

Mentoring the young ones especially kids with special needs involve a lot of patience and determination.

Parents with special kids are really appreciative of the teachers’ efforts in guiding and teaching their kids more so because their kids need utmost attention. And because these mentors spend a lot of time developing the kids’ capabilities, they are considered their second parents.

I would like to honor a very dedicated mentor at the Romblon East Central School, where Pangga ta Ikaw helps, as she shares her journey on becoming a Special Education teacher.

 

 

TEACHER BING has been nurturing kids’ minds for twenty years. For the last 12 years, she has been a Special Education teacher handling children with various special needs like Down syndrome, hearing and intellectual disabilities, and autism spectrum disorder, to name a few.

Q: What motivated you to become a Special Education ( SPED ) teacher?

“Honestly, my being a SPED teacher is not my choice.

I was just encouraged by the then Assistant Schools Division Superintendent, Mrs. Susan F. Malihan, but then when I came to the field I realized that probably this is my mission in life.”

Q: What is your typical day like?

“Compared with teaching regular children, I would say that handling children with special needs is very challenging and takes a lot of patience and commitment in my part to be able to help them enjoy my lessons and end their day with learning.”

Q: Do you have any struggles or big challenges on being a SPED teacher?

“Yes, a lot, especially in behavior modification which needs the involvement and collaboration of parents which usually is a big challenge for them.

Most parents do not give follow up lessons to their children at home and much worse is that they expect a lot from us and even think that their kids will be cured from their disabilities even though we tell them from the start that we are not doctors who could cure them, what we could only do is help them overcome their disability.

When the kids learn to read and write, they expect us to mainstream their children in the regular class right away.

Likewise, parents of children with severe disabilities expect that their kids will be mainstreamed to the regular class soonest but we can’t do that because we rely on their learning pace. We have to wait for them to learn and we can’t force them to learn just like kids in the regular class.

Mainstreaming– Some regular teachers are not open or positive to us mainstreaming our kids. They neglect our children, but of course it is already difficult for them to handle 30 – 40 pupils and here comes another special child, who is equivalent to 10 regular children, to teach and help. It is an additional burden in their part.

Bullying – Our children are oftentimes bullied by the normal kids when mainstreamed in the regular class.

Parents – Some parents are in denial and could not accept the condition of their children and they always resist when there are programs or activities required for their children.

Monetary Benefits that SPED children receive – Parents enroll their children in SPED just because of the incentives that they get from the government. From the month of June to September, we get a good attendance of the kids, but from August onward after they get their allowances in July, absenteeism becomes a norm for some children.”

Q: How do you handle a very difficult child?

” I always start with behavior modification. We cannot affect learning if these children are not focused and are manifesting negative behavior.

I reach out and emphasize the cooperation of parents. There are behavior modification techniques that we employ but these techniques will only be effective with the strong collaboration of the parents who should follow – up at home.

We also use rewards and punishments but for me I always focus on the rewards. But not monetary, I often use tokens that gradually fade out as soon as they are conditioned with the very good stamp on their hands. “

Q: Do you involve the parents in teaching their kids?

” Collaboration of the parents is very important especially in behavior modification. There should be follow-ups at home and teachers’ and parents’ discipline should be consistent both in school and at home.

It’s really hard for me to teach discipline but when the kids get home, the parents tend to compromise , especially the mothers who pity their children. I do understand though that when their kids have tantrums, they usually give up. So when the kids go back to school,  I have to repeat the lessons all over again.

And some parents are  indifferent that they tend to just leave the teaching to us.

Sometimes, our pupils come to school without pencil, notebook and even snacks.

What  frustrates me the most is when I give homework and when the kid comes to school and has nothing to show that he did it, and of course, I know that the parent did not follow up their kid. Sometimes they even lose their assignment portfolio and when I ask where it is, they would answer, ” I don’t know,” or ” I lost it.”

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

” Of course, I feel fulfilled and happy when my pupils accomplish something.

But I get discouraged and feel unproductive and exhausted if they don’t get my lessons and especially if parents don’t cooperate and despite my efforts of getting through the challenges of the day, I don’t feel appreciated at all. “

Q: Any advise/s on those who plan to pursue a career as a SPED teacher?

Teaching SPED classes is a very challenging task and they need to realize that these children have special needs to start with. They should not be taken lightly. 

Like normal kids, they have dreams and want to become productive and useful in the community.

We should always remember that we could make or break these kids.

So, if they want to be a SPED teacher with meager salary, they should think twice.”

 

There you go, being a Special Education teacher is no big joke.

It involves a lot of patience, dedication and commitment.

Parents truly are so grateful that these Special Education teachers keep their sanity in dealing with their kids with special needs.

 

Hey parents, would you like to show appreciation to your child’s teacher with a gift certificate? Click on the image above.

“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.”

If you have a child with special needs and he has an awesome teacher, please share your story with us. We would love to hear how your kid enjoys being in school.

 

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