Open Discussion Forum

Expand all | Collapse all

Is it worth it?

  • 1.  Is it worth it?

    Posted 25 days ago

    Hello all! I have been working with kids for almost three years; and I am about to transition to one on one support for children with special needs. I do feel excited about this, but also hesitant bc of the experiences I've had in a typical preschool setting. I didn't realize there was a handful of children I'd miss as if they were my own, and I suppose I'm just stuck in this bittersweet feeling. I just needed to rant I think, but I do appreciate any advice yall have for moving on from the group of kids you've taught for 2+yrs, and any advice for supporting a child with special needs would be appreciated! 

    SK-------------------------



  • 2.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 25 days ago

    Original Message:
    Sent: 02-08-2024 12:33 AM
    From: Scarlett Kirkland
    Subject: Is it worth it?

    Hello all! I have been working with kids for almost three years; and I am about to transition to one on one support for children with special needs. I do feel excited about this, but also hesitant bc of the experiences I've had in a typical preschool setting. I didn't realize there was a handful of children I'd miss as if they were my own, and I suppose I'm just stuck in this bittersweet feeling. I just needed to rant I think, but I do appreciate any advice yall have for moving on from the group of kids you've taught for 2+yrs, and any advice for supporting a child with special needs would be appreciated! 

    SK-------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 13 days ago

    I am a family home early childhood educator responsible for ten young learners, five of whom have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). I aim to equip every child with the necessary skills and knowledge to transition confidently into natural settings and engage equitably. I firmly believe that everyone has unique needs and abilities, and I agree with Aren, who stated that you are the primary support system for this child. The child in question needs your guidance and support to become independent.

    That bittersweet feeling comes with our profession. We need to help children grow into independence. As a caregiver, I share that responsibility while the kids are with me. However, the reality is that they have parents who allow me to enjoy their company for a season. I focus on the joyful moments and take pride in the children's growth and accomplishments, even though there may be heartbreak. I wish you all the best.



    ------------------------------
    Monica Jackson
    Owner
    Jackson Child Care
    VA
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 24 days ago

    Scarlett:

    Congratulations on starting a new position.  It's bittersweet to say goodbye. You feel this, which means you're a person with empathy and that's valuable. You won't forget "your" previous children and you'll make strong relationships with the new ones.

    As far as supporting a child or children with extra needs--keep the "need" part in the forefront.  What does that child need from me in this moment?  A hug? A visual support? A quiet presence so they can come back into balance? A break in a quieter place?  Are they feling overwhelmed by noise, lights, and/or activity and they could use a break by walking down the hall or being in a quieter space? When any child has difficulty they are communicating a need. And emotions that they may not be able to express in another way.  The only other piece of advice I have is to remember that each child is different.  Every Autistic child is different from every other Autistic child. There will be similarities that may help you to understand them, and there will be a lot of differrences.



    ------------------------------
    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 24 days ago

    Hi Aren, thank you for your kind reply! I appreciate the encouragement and insight, thank you so much! 



    ------------------------------
    Scarlett Kirkland
    Multi-age teacher
    FL
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 23 days ago

    Might we use "people first" language in this dialogue and in practice? The child is a child first and the child has a diagnosis of autism.

    Using "people first" language helps us to remember to center the child, not the diagnostic label. Children with autism are unique individuals-as we all are in this world. 


    Thank you for your consideration. 



    ------------------------------
    Christine Whitmire
    Director of Early Childhood Education
    Heritage Southwest Intermediate School District
    Cassopolis, MI
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 23 days ago

    Christine:
    Great point and of course children are children first.  However, there is a huge Autistic Pride movement among young people and adults and most prefer diagnosis first.  I've changed my language and my thinking as I've learned from them as a neurotypical person.  Of course, some people still prefer people first language for themselves.  If the person I'm referring to is old enough, I find out their preference.  But with our young kids, we have to make a choice ourselves.  



    ------------------------------
    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 23 days ago

    Christine, Any advice for me since you posted on my post? TY!



    ------------------------------
    Scarlett Kirkland
    Multi-age teacher
    FL
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 20 days ago

    Hi Scarlett, 

    First, I just want to acknowledge that in your original post you didn't specify any particular diagnosis, and the advice from Aren holds: every child is different and has different needs--and she's given you great strategies to try after you get to know who your student is. Some of the best advice I got was that "observation is a kind of intervention." I started by simply observing the child, and then slowly entering their world, at the same time that I entered the world of the classroom and acclimated to it. The next step is to build a relationship of trust, so that the student sees you as an ally. At the same time, I got to know the other children in the classroom, first by name so I could at least address them, and then a little better as I observed and interacted with them. I feel like my work is also supporting these other children to make room for my student, to scaffold mutual relationship building, so it's helpful to identify who might be good peer models/partners for them. 

    I could go on, and I'm happy to have an off-line conversation with you, but this is only my first year doing this work, and I've learned a lot from those with experience; I'm sure there are others on this list who can guide you better! 

    The first part of your question was about how do you let go of "your" students...I'm sure it's hard after a few years with the same students. But, referring to above, you may be able to forge a special relationship not only with your own student but also with the class (and, if the student is young enough, you might stay with them and their peers for more than one year). Having also tried to build a positive relationship with the classroom teachers, so they welcome me as well, I do still get that good feeling of being a member of a classroom community. 

    So far I really enjoy the work!

    Serena



    ------------------------------
    Serena L. Krombach
    Special Education Itinerant Teacher
    Brooklyn, NY
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 20 days ago

    Serena:

    This is beautiful advice.  I love "Observation is a kind of intervention".  I think that silence and observation is a lost art for a lot of teachers and caregivers.  It's so important and you nicely describe how you create (or co-create with the child) a trusting relationship. I think what you write is applicable to all children in a classroom.  

    Another great point you make is helping other children to understand and include the child you're specifically supporting.  So often we adults expect the child with a different way of communicating, playing, etc. to change. We also need to teach the other children, who might act/play/communicate in ways that might be mre immediately understandable, that they can change a bit to include other children. It's a really important part of education, no matter who the children are. And yes--none of this is diagnosis dependent.



    ------------------------------
    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 19 days ago

    Hello All,

    I really appreciate this discussion. I felt observation was my best tool in the early childhood classroom and beyond really. It is critical in well-rounded on-going assessment and as you have been indicating in daily interventions, too. Observing children (humans), sometimes in silence, presents valuable information to internalize and allow for thoughtful relating. It can also be quite enjoyable to see how children problem-solve and learn on their own. 

    Thank you for all the work each of you is doing for our youngest community members and citizens,

    Kate Ross, MS, CCC-SLP, Consulting & Writing, LLC

    Retired Director of SLPA Program & Instructor at University of Vermont

    Retired Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in Early Intervention & Early Childhood




  • 12.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 19 days ago

    Serena, 

    Yes, I did not include a diagnosis because I wasn't sure what the clients I will be working with have been formally diagnosed with, but I do know it is majority autism, or autism with other diagnoses. I am just beginning my training to become a RBT, and I really appreciate your statement observation is an intervention. I also agree with that and think it is a very telling way to get to know another human. Thank you for your reply! 

    Kate, thank you for your reply as well! I appreciate the input and helpful advice, and I am thankful you took the time to respond. Thank you! 



    ------------------------------
    Scarlett Kirkland
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Is it worth it?

    Posted 18 days ago

    Yes, observation IS worth it.  Careful observation was taught to me eons ago in my first child development class.  We were taught to use a stenographer's notebook with the vertical line down the middle of the page.  Our careful objective-as-possible observations were written in the left-hand column.  Then in the right had column we could write our interpretations of those observations.  Learning to separate and label those two parts of the observation was a wonderful skill so helpful in working with children.  And adults for that matter!



    ------------------------------
    Kathryn Miller
    IA
    ------------------------------