Many people spend their lives searching for a career that be not only financially lucrative, but also emotionally fulfilling. For those who want to make a difference in the lives of others, and earn a special place in someone's heart along with their paycheck, working with special needs children is a great way to accomplish those goals. There are a wide variety of jobs available working with special needs children, all of which are equally important when it comes to helping those children develop into well-rounded, high-functioning adult members of society.
One of the most popular options for working with special needs children is to procure a job as a teacher in a special needs school. While almost all public schools have a special education program, there are usually only a few teachers for it, and the children in the program are often forced to remain separated from the “mainstream” classrooms and student body for fear of being ridiculed, teased or bullied. Schools that are entirely dedicated to serving children with special needs, however, are often a much better environment for them, and much better at fulfilling their needs when it comes to their learning styles. Working with special needs children as a teacher can be very satisfying emotionally because it enables individuals to make a difference in the lives of special needs children, in a setting where they are the center of attention.
Another benefit of working with special needs children in a school setting is also extremely fulfilling because of the impact that one can have on the children's learning. Children with special needs are often able to function quite highly in an academic setting as long as they have adults who are well-trained and able to adapt the curriculum to fit their learning style. Every child is different, and a variety of stimuli and teaching styles are needed to effectively teach all of the children in a classroom; however, many traditional teaching styles don't work well for teaching children with special needs. When you connect with a child who has been struggling, and you see the look on their face when they finally understand what you're trying to teach them, that's when working with special needs children is most fulfilling.
Another option for working with special needs children is to obtain a position as a counselor or staff member in a specialty camp. There are many different summer camps which provide special accommodations for children with physical, emotional, and mental disabilities or difficulties. Children who have physical disabilities, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, can't participate in most summer camp activities, for obvious reasons; therefore, specialty summer camps for children with physical disabilities are the most popular. However, there are summer camps for children with any of a variety of other difficulties, including serious illnesses like HIV/AIDS, speech and communication impairments, blood disorders, and cancer.
Working with special needs children can often be demanding, and it's difficult to avoid getting emotionally attached to students and clients, and their families. Getting overly attached to a student can mean that workers will be sad when that child moves on, and the experience when a child graduates or transfers to a new program can be very bittersweet. However, for those who can withstand the emotional highs and lows of working with special needs children, it's an extremely gratifying profession, in which one can do a great deal of good for others.