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Working with special needs children

(17 Posts)
lunavix Wed 09-Feb-05 11:07:50

I don't know if this is the best place for this, but I was wondering if anyone had some suggestions for the people who have helped with their lo's during and after diagnosis of any special needs?

I've always known I wanted to work with children, and after a friend has just had her little boy diagnosed with autism ( we have no idea to what extent yet as it is still early days ) it has made me realise that the level of care these families recieve is just so important to helping the kids!

Who exactly, in what job positions, have helped you, and how? I'd like to get some ideas so I can look into working in this field.

Thank you in advance to anyone who helps!

lunavix Wed 09-Feb-05 11:50:00


Eulalia Wed 09-Feb-05 13:53:35

lunavix - how nice to hear that someone is interested in working with autistic children. Not sure if I can answer your question but will try. So many people have helped us and there is such a wide range of professions you can enter. It depends if you want to specialise, ie in psychology or educational psychology or if you mean a more general approach such as the nursing staff who worked at our local child development unit. They've all been valuable in different ways.

I don't what your work experience/education is at the moment or if you want to tag onto something you've already done or start all over again.

ds's headteacher has worked autistic young people but obviously took the teaching route first. She's been invaluable in her level of understanding and allowing support for his teacher to go on courses for example.

Good luck and hope you get more answers here.

Miriam2 Wed 09-Feb-05 13:57:54

In my area (London borough) there is a programme called SIPS (supporting inclusion in preschools) and you work with a child in the preschool who needs 1:1 either all the time or some of the time. I don't think you need experience but there may be some training. It's very rewarding, not very well paid (!) but you get experience of many different special needs and it's term time (if that's a factor)

hercules Wed 09-Feb-05 14:00:01

I've just come back from visiting a special needs school and I'm going to apply to work there as a teacher. They have loads of LSAs and dont take teachers who have previously worked in SEN schools. They want people who love children and have bags of energy.

fredtbad Wed 09-Feb-05 14:07:40

OT in paed's, loving every minute.

lunavix Wed 09-Feb-05 15:32:08

Thanks everyone!

I'm not thinking specifically children with autism, that has just been a starting point in my thinking (the only little one I know with any special needs) and it's a bit early to know what assistance he will need.

I'm not really thinking nursing, more of an educational/support aspect, but I haven't had any teacher training, and I don't have a degree either, so while I know that's something I could work towards, I'd still like a starting point in the field.

The pre-school idea is good, I'll have to see if they do it in my district.

Please keep any more ideas coming!

lunavix Wed 09-Feb-05 15:34:26

Do OT's specialise?

ie with children, or SN children?

The training is quite generalised isn't it?

fredtbad Wed 09-Feb-05 15:40:23

Yes we do, and no we don't. Basically there are distincts area's you can work but most colleagues I know work across a couple of area's:
profound/moderate learning difficulties (PMLD)
physical disabilities
CAMHS (child adolescent mental health)
neurological (cp etc)
PDD ( aspergers, autism etc)
rare genetic disorders
DCD (dyspraxia, developmental delay)
The list seems endless at times!

Wallace Wed 09-Feb-05 15:54:56

I am at college doing a part-time Health and Social Care course and I am doing a placement at a school for kids with special needs. I am LOVING it and would honestly say it is one of the most amazing things I have ever done.
I am basically working as a Learning Support Auxillary, assisting the teachers and other staff. I would love a job there - in fact I just found out there is a LSA job going at the moment and I would love to apply for it, but it is from 9 - 3 everyday and I don't feel I can leave my own kids for that long yet! However I am sure a job will come up when I am ready, I plan to keep volunteering even when my placement is finished to keep my foot in the door.
You could try volunteering at a local special needs school and see how you get on.

fredtbad Wed 09-Feb-05 16:26:57

Sorry only answered part of your message.
OT's train in both physical & mental health (holistically) for three years (UK), then you can decide to either go to a specific area straightaway (ie social services) or like the majority of junior grades, rotate through several areas over the course of a further 2 or 3 years. Generally then you have had a good bit of variety and can decide to specialise further by remaining in one area, say paediatrics.
NB there aren't enough of us, hence many services have lengthy waiting lists

geekgrrl Wed 09-Feb-05 18:29:31

hi lunavix, in the early days dd´s portage worker was by far the most important support for us. have a look at - basically the portage workers come to the family´s home once a week and do specific developmental play with babies or preschoolers. As they are often the first support workers to work properly with the family they tend to be a bit of a shoulder to cry on, too! I think they only have 6 families at a time and usually stay with them for a long time, 1 year plus. I don´t think it pays terribly well tbh though, but doesn´t require as much training as other jobs.
Everybody else, like ST, OT etc we only see less than once a year. Not terribly helpful!

ThomCat Wed 09-Feb-05 20:43:19

Hi lunavix, good for you.

The people that have bben there to help and support us have been

Portage workers, they are part of the early years teaching and stay with you from the minute you arrange it until your child starts at primary school. They visit you at home and also the child in nursery.

OT - Occupational therapists.


SALT - Speech & Language therapists.

(Just a teeny tiny silly thing but you might want to say children with special needs rather than special needs children)

Anyway, let us know how you get on and best of luck, TC x

sinclair Thu 10-Feb-05 17:16:59

Agree, portage is so invaluable, you are supporting families in the home up to education so it tends to be younger kiddies, but think you may need special training. The service is usually run bu Educ dept at the council so contact them. I would think about Learning Support Assistants in schools (basically fulfilling the requirements of children like my DD who has a statement of special educ needs which states that she is entitled to one-2-one support for x hours a week) Am fairly certain that you don't need a special background, and lots of training opportunites once in the job, hours segue nicely with school age kids which makes it a very manageable schedule for mums. Jobs are advertised on local council web sites so you can get a sense of what's around and the (pitiful) rates of pay. Hugely satisfying tho (so our fabtastic LSA tells me!)

Christie Thu 10-Feb-05 17:47:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fredtbad Fri 11-Feb-05 02:00:58

Fair do's Christie. Can't understand why I typed moderate instead of multiple? I do vaguely remember my two waking up around that point and hurriedly finishing the post. I stand corrected How embarrassing!

coppertop Fri 11-Feb-05 07:56:55

The people who have helped us the most are:

Portage workers: Ds1 had a worker until he started school. Ds2 has one now. They visit us every 2 weeks and offer advice and suggestions of what activities may help with various difficulties. They are also someone who you can talk to without thinking you are either attention-seeking (important if your child has an 'invisible' disability) or the world's untidiest mother (although I may yet be a contender for that particular category ).

SALT - Ds1's SALT has helped us so much. She's truly wonderful.

Playgroup staff - They did a huge amount for ds1 with very little money. They were always there to give him hugs when he needed them but respected his personal space when he didn't want anyone near him. It was thanks to them that ds1 was able to participate fully in all of the activities, trips out etc.

LSA - Ds1 has an LSA for a few hours a week. She does a fantastic job with him and knows when to take an active role and when to take a step back and let him try doing an activity for himself.

Teacher - Ds1's teacher is very good with him. She seems to instinctively know when ds1 is doing something because of his ASD and when he's doing something because he's being <ds1>. This is important to us because this way he is not getting into trouble for something he can't help but at the same time he isn't being given free rein to do whatever he wants and being allowed to get away with it. He has ASD but he also gets into the same kinds of trouble as most NT 4yr-old boys.

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