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Career Story: Classroom Assistant Working With Autistic Children

Classroom Assistant Working With Autistic Children

Job Title: Classroom Assistant

Type of Company: I work for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania public school system.

Education: AS, Criminal Justice

Previous Experience: I started out cooking in a restaurant, worked for four years as a dental assistant, then for three years in a toy store and I've been working in the school district for a dozen years and counting.

Job Tasks: I work in special education, dealing with autistic children. A typical day for me starts with waiting for the children to get off of their buses, when I escort them to the classroom. While the children are unpacking their back packs, I collect homework from the ones who are able to do homework and then start the reading. I read with five boys individually and that consumes most of the time until lunch, to which I also have to accompany them. After lunch, I take my own 45 minute lunch break. When I return there are only about 20 minutes to kill until we go to our prep class (art, gym, music etc. ) When we return from prep the children have a snack and by then it is time to get ready to go home.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing the children's faces light up when they have figured something out by themselves and how they love to learn. The worst part is dealing with the ones who get a little out of control and dealing with co-workers who are not taking care of their responsibilities.

Job Tips:
1. Children can make your day so much brighter when they learn and you are the one helping them. 2. Work with other educators. You can learn a lot about how to teach and handle children by watching them.

Additional Thoughts: This profession has a lot of rewards and disappointments. The children are so different in their special needs and don't ever tell me they are stupid. The majority of the children know exactly what they are doing and the parents (especially when their child is an only child) over-compensate for things and the child learns how to manipulate then to get what they want.

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