No matter what setting you train and work in - whether it's mainstream schools, special schools or both, you will work with children and young people with complex needs. Individuals that tend to work in SEND environments enjoy the feeling of fulfilment and the opportunities for career progression. Helping children with SEN means you are giving them a better chance of a happy and thriving future. You will also have the satisfaction of being involved in a child's intellectual, social and emotional development.
Below is a list of qualities that is preferred when working with SEND children:
· sensitivity and understanding
· patience and the ability to remain calm
· to enjoy working with other people
· to be flexible and open to change
· excellent verbal communication skills
· knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
· the ability to understand people's reactions
Children with special needs have not only physical limitations that challenge their opportunity for communication, they also have environmental barriers. Children with special needs often require tools to aid communication and may need an investment of both time and money to learn and modify their strategies to adapt to the world.
1.) Gestures and Nonverbal communication
Including gestures such as pointing, nodding and focused eye contact can help children with disabilities understand messages. Parents, family members and friends may need to exaggerate their gestures or prolong them, especially in the beginning to promote comprehension. In general, children like responding to exaggerated nonverbals with their own movements and gestures, but for children with disabilities, gestures are almost necessary.
2.) Read to them - and talk to them often
The first step to learning language is listening, and we cannot expect a child to communicate well if we first do not teach them to understand. Exposure to communication is a key element for learning.
3.) Change it up
While you certainly want to begin with simple language, you will eventually wan to expand the child's vocabulary. Challenge your own vocabulary by slightly mixing up your words. Expansion of vocabulary challenges the though process as well as helps a child feel confident in communication skills.
4.) Use pictures
Like flashcards and pictures as they can challenge the memory. Associating still pictures with words can help the child associate words with the real world. Use pictures with single items rather then those with busy backgrounds. As the child learns, you may introduce more challenging scenery or pictures in which children may identify several objects.
5.) Realise and respect their differences and limitations
Challenging children can give them opportunities to succeed, but parents can also over do it. The child will let you know when he or she is ready to move on to another adventure in language.
Getting a child to understand you and being able to communicate effectively is key to them becoming settled and making progress in your childcare setting. Good communication towards SEND children also makes them feel safe and comfortable.