Interview: Special Ed Aide

2 Apr
This week I interviewed a woman who works with autistic preschoolers.  I’ve worked with kids for a while, so I know that preschool students are at a difficult (albeit cute) age to teach.  Working with special needs children poses extra challenges.  This interviewee said that she and her co-workers occasionally get slapped or bitten by frustrated students.  She made the comment that any time you work with people, you might get hurt or insulted but these kids are more up-front about it!  Although challenging, it sounds like a very rewarding job.

1. What is your job title?
My job title is:  Special Ed. Preschool Autism Paraprofessional.  I’m a classroom aide for an autism program.

2.  What are your job responsibilities?
My duties are to support the classroom teacher in the daily curriculum.  It is a very structured one-on-one program.  Each student has his or her own individual educational plan. My assigned subject is pre-literacy.
In my classroom, I am one of 8 aides.  The students rotate from each aide to another for a different subject or activity every ten minutes.  This helps to keep the students stimulated.  I enjoy it as well because I get to work with every student in the class.

3.  What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy most working with the children daily as they respond and develop their abilities.  It’s rewarding to see the progress they make by the end of the school year.

4.  What is challenging or frustrating about your job?
Working with autistic children can be a challenge.  Although autistic children share some common characteristics, each individual child responds differently to lessons and how they are presented.

5.  Is this your dream job, a stepping stone toward your dream job or something you kinda fell into?
This job was something new to me. I have not worked in education before this and basically took the position because it sounded interesting and was available.

6.  What did you study in college?
When I started college, I mostly concentrated on business courses thinking I would be working in an office.  At the same time, the most interesting classes to me were humanities subjects, especially literature.  Later, when I returned to college, I took general ed. classes as well as some computer courses.

7.  What did you want to be as a child?
When I was a young child, I wanted to be a full-time mother.  In high school, I thought I’d like to be a interior decorator.

8.  Do you earn enough money to make ends meet?  (If so, are you comfortable or barely getting by?)
I earn enough to make ends meet and be comfortable.

9.  How secure is your job?  Has the recession affected your field?
My job is reasonably secure, considering I work for a school district.  Special education has been fairly protected.

10.  Would you recommend this type of work to someone else?
I would recommend this type of job to anyone who enjoys working with children who need a lot of help.  It is challenging both physically and mentally but also very rewarding.  It is a real joy when an autistic child responds to what you are trying to teach them.  They can be very affectionate at times and that’s a perk.
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