Working with special needs children, or children with disabilities can be a rewarding niche as a teacher’s aide. If you are thinking about becoming a special needs teacher’s aide and are unsure of the job duties or education requirements, you’ve come to the right place.
What is a Special Needs Teacher’s Aide?
A special needs teacher’s aide works as the assistant to a special needs teacher, and directly with the classroom, just as a regular teacher’s aide would. Since students placed in special needs classrooms have a variety of disabilities, additional training is required to assist in this setting.
Special needs classrooms generally have a lower student to teacher ratio in order to ensure that each child is receiving the quality education they deserve. Students in a special needs classroom may have a variety of disabilities which could include autism, hearing or vision loss, developmental delays, mental retardation, or speech disorders. Being an assistant to such a wide range of needs definitely requires special skills. Special education teacher’s aides should have specific training is first aid, crisis intervention, communicating with families, along with training about specific disabilities and physical limitations.
With the proper education you will be more valuable to the special education teacher as well as better qualified to meet the needs of the students you work with.
According to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, there are specific training requirements in order to be a special education teacher’s aide.
Training Requirements and Qualifications
You’ll need to complete at least two years of higher education or have your associate’s degree in order to work as a teacher’s aide in a special education atmosphere. Specific training for special needs teacher’s assistants covers the following topics:
- Teacher / Teacher’s Assistant relationship
- Instructional techniques for the special needs environment
- Academic assessments
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Training is available online as well as traditional college settings. Before signing up for online training for a special needs teacher’s aide, check with your local school district to find out if certification from an online program will be accepted.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Special Needs Teacher’s Aide?
The exact work involved in a career as a special needs teaching assistant can vary greatly, depending on the needs of the students. Some of the responsibilities could be:
- Assisting with the student’s physical needs, such as feeding, therapy, and toileting
- Helping the student with school work and mastering life skills
- Helping students increase their communication abilities
- Helping students increase their self confidence and independence
Working as a teacher’s assistant in a special needs environment is not for everyone. Things to keep in mind are the stress levels that this job can include. Students with special needs can sometimes be verbally or physically abusive and the job can be emotionally draining. On the other hand, helping a student with a physical or mental disability to master an important skill is hugely rewarding. In order to assess whether you’ve got what it takes to work in a special needs environment you may want to volunteer to help in a classroom for a few days.