Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Strategies for Assisting Students with Special Needs

A versatile individual with experience in medicine, education, travel, and multiple languages, Manuel Marquez, MD, served as a paraprofessional in the Ventura Unified School District during the 2014-2015 school year. During that time, Manuel Marquez, MD, performed duties including tutoring, bilingual translation, and after-school supervision for students with special needs.

When teaching or supporting students with special needs, the key to success is finding the student's strengths. All students have talents, abilities, and interests, and the teacher who uncovers these can best motivate the student to learn. Such motivation is essential to students who may have received the message, whether explicit or implicit, that they do not have the capability to succeed academically.

Teachers and their assistants also need to understand what supports and accommodations the student needs to succeed. A savvy educator knows how to match a student with the correct learning tool, such as a stability ball chair for a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a talk-to-text program for students who have reading and writing disabilities.

The truly dedicated teacher also knows how to advocate for his or her students. Doing so may involve ensuring that a student has access to extra test time or class notes, and it typically requires knowing which departments or administrators are able to arrange such accommodations.

If the teacher can provide these modifications and supports, while also communicating a belief in the student's abilities, that student may be more likely to develop a success mindset. The student in turn then stands a greater chance of progressing and of reaching his or her true potential.