Special needs schools

A WORLD OF TEACHING THROUGH THE EYES OF AN ABA INSTRUCTOR

Have you ever imagined the world of teaching through the eyes of a special education teacher…or in our world, an ABA instructor? It takes a unique person to educate children with special needs. And special needs schools in the traditional sense are not the only way. The career of an ABA instructor is an interesting career because we get to help our precious children overcome obstacles and at the same time, we learn and grow as an individuals each and every single day.

A typical day for us is hard to define because we all have different experiences and the job description varies widely, unlike that of a classroom teacher. I chose to interview instructors from our centre to give us their view on what a typical day at The Star Academy is like in their opinion. Majority of the instructors shared these things in common:

  • a typical day is a case load of children who have individualized programs
  • there is a responsibility of always coming prepared for a specific child
  • recording of data on the child’s progress towards their goals is imperative
  • attending workshops and team meetings

Let’s take a moment and look at some of these things a little more closely.

Coming prepared for each child

An instructor may have any number of children on her case and one of our primary responsibilities is to teach our children with any modifications necessary to meet their specified goals and objectives. Each child has an individualised plan that the parents, instructors, supervisors and any other professionals involved in the child’s education agreed upon based on the student’s needs and potential. This plan is even more detailed and more regularly updated than the plan they would receive at special needs schools.

Data recording and team workshops

Although each child has an individualized program, all instructors are trained to track data systematically to ensure accuracy and reliability of each child’s progress. Each child also has regular team workshops and daily feedback to teams and parents in order to monitor their progress and make amendments to their individualised programs to ensure that they are receiving optimal education. This will maximize their ability to achieve their goals. Accurate and continuous data recording is not possible in traditional special needs schools because of the number of children in the classes.

Something quite interesting I noted during the interviews was the different adjectives that were used to describe a typical day as an ABA instructor. These included determination, fun, challenging, joyful and one that came up quite, rewarding. The latter resonates with me personally. The moments shared with our kids are priceless. Although ABA has an educational approach, we become one with our kids and as we begin to understand them and they allow us to enter their world, it truly becomes a magical encounter, and I believe that that’s one of the factors that distinguishes The Star Academy from traditional special needs schools.

-Andani Madzivhandila