6 Life Lessons You Learn From Working With Children With Special Needs
For the past eight years, I worked with children with special needs as an in-home aide. I assist with homework, chores and activities of daily living.
Through this, I grew a deep, personal connection with them. Of course, a job of this calibre had its stressful moments but the bigger takeaway for me was all of the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years. Here are a few I think we could all apply to our lives regardless of our backgrounds.
1. Be patient
We may try to accomplish a task multiple times and not succeed. But one day, when we aren’t even giving our full effort, it happens. The joy in that moment of something coming to fruition far exceeds any frustration the failed attempts may have caused.
2. Celebrate life’s small victories
Life at times can be stressful and full of unexpected curveballs (Pretty sure we all learned that in 2020). With that being said, it is important to celebrate the small things.
In my experience, a small victory could look like a child I assisted making a snack for themself without assistance. For those reading this, it could be exercising three times this week or remembering to fill your prescription. Life is too short and stressful as is, don’t be so hard on yourself.
3. Love looks different for everyone
Many individuals with special needs have sensory issues that can sometimes create an aversion to touching, hugging, etc.
Just because these individuals do not wish to partake in these usual types of affection does not mean they don’t feel warm towards others. Remember how others express themselves differs for each person, how one shows their love is not a cookie-cutter formula.
It does not mean that their feelings are not there.
4. Respect other’s dietary restrictions/preferences
Some individuals with special needs can have adverse reactions to certain food allergens and/or dyes. If an individual has chosen for themselves ( or their family/guardian has chosen) to eliminate certain items from their diet, do not scrutinize them for doing so or question their motive.
Respect that everyone is entitled to make these decisions for themselves and/or their loved ones.
5. Modern technology is a true blessing
While many of us use technology daily we usually don’t consider how it helps others who are in a different position from us.
For instance, individuals who are non-verbal can use charts and computers to help express their needs and wants. Those who have a physical impairment may have computers they can use with just eye movement to help them voice their thoughts.
Lastly, medical devices help in the assistance of moving those who may have issues otherwise or closely monitor medical statistics to ensure their safety and well-being.
6. Have fun
Life doesn’t always have to be all work and no play. Sometimes we take life too seriously. We need to remember to let loose, have fun and not be all work and no play.
When working with the children, I realized it was important to give them a well-deserved and much-needed break between getting home from school. We all need a breather every now and then. Everyone can benefit from scheduled “rest” periods and enjoy a good laugh.
Remember we are all human. We all handle things differently. After a challenging year like 2020, it’s important to remember you never know the full details of someone’s life. Let’s all keep in mind for the upcoming year that we can all use a little more empathy and a lot less judgment.