What Is It Like Being A Special Need’s Teaching Assistant At 17?

I get asked a lot from various people what it is like being a special educational need’s teaching assistant and thought I’d do what I do best; write about it.

A lot of people tell me that for my age (17) I am amazing. Simply due to what I choose to do five days a week. And I often turn around and say well why? Why am I so ‘amazing’ because of the job I do? What is it about my career that makes me different from anyone else. And they reply with my strengths to confidence and knowledge. How I can deal with behaviours and can work in a team. That I am clever in the field of working with special needs and that most young people could not do my job. And that always fathoms me because why not? Why can most young people my age not do my job?

It is not a walk in the park. Despite the tough days I absolutely love my job, the kids and the staff. Even though some days it’s tough and you truly want to pull your hair out, the staff are there to support you. And I am so thankful for the team I am in, the friendships I have made and the connections I have encountered.

I do believe that not just anyone can become a special educational needs teaching assistant. You have to be patient. These beautiful and talented children need time. Time to process, time to work, time to learn. And as a teaching assistant it is your responsibility to give them this time. You need to be positive. Even in the most negative of situations you need to keep calm and positive. As soon as you turn to negativity, the children will pick this up. Stay positive and they will stay positive; some days. You also need to be resilient. Just because something didn’t work today, doesn’t mean it won’t work tomorrow. Depending on the situation, mood and work level not everything is going to work first time. However by being resilient and keep on trying, that activity will work on a better day. You just need to find that day.

The things that I have learnt on my year of being a teaching assistant is incredible. From learning about each disability to handling behaviour, everyone is different. Just because one child with autism doesn’t communicate doesn’t mean all children with autism don’t. Each child and their challenges are different and as a TA it is my job to develop myself to their individual needs.

I do disagree with the people who tell me I am amazing due to my job. And I disagree when they tell me that they wouldn’t be able to do it. Because yes it is hard, but what job isn’t? And things that aren’t considered ‘normal’ are day to day things that happen and no one batters an eye. Because we are used to it, well as used to it as we can be.

Because the children I work with are incredible. They have given me a different outlook on life and have made me feel so thankful for my life. Their individual love, personalities and character shape who they are and they are beautiful.

So despite the bite marks, the scratches and the hits I wouldn’t change my job for the world. For I am so lucky to work with the children I do and the staff. Without them my job would not be possible. And to anyone looking into becoming a special educational needs teaching assistant; do it. And don’t be afraid.

Much Love

Olivia Grace

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