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Career Story: Post-High School Special Education Teacher Assistant

Post-High School Special Education Teacher Assistant

Job Title: Teacher Assistant / Life Skills Coach

Type of Company: I work in a high school

Education: BA in Communications

Previous Experience: Advertising, retail management, teaching pre-school.

Job Tasks: I work with children ages 18- 22 who have disabilities. These children have gone through high school for the four years with everyone else - but this program is designed to teach them life skills. It is considered a post-grad program for after high-school. I take the kids to different job-sites where they learn job skills, public transportation and social skills. I take them to leisure type sites - YMCA, restaurants, retail stores - where they learn all sorts of skills.

We also do life-skills training in the classroom which includes: hygiene, social skills, banking, cooking, manners, etc. An important part of what they learn is what to do with their leisure time. These kids with disabilities have basically for the most part had someone to help them do just about everything up until now. We are there to guide them through everyday life skills and experiences. We prepare them for living on their own and working a job. They visit colleges, work sites, and other organizations so that they are fully aware of what choices they have when they leave our program. Each child has their own set of abilities. We can cater the program to fit each individual student. The program is essential to them being independent in the world once they turn 22.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is seeing the growth of these kids from year to year. Watching them come to the program not being able to cross the street alone and leaving the program ready to have their own place. The part of the job I find most difficult is the challenges of dealing with the public when we bring the children to each site. Some are annoyed and inpatient with our kids and makes the job frustrating and difficult to teach the children what they need to learn.

Job Tips:
1. Any special education college work is most helpful, but a clear knowledge of basic daily life skills and different strategies to teach those skills is essential.

2. Patience is imperative. Working with small children is a great asset. These kids though are from the ages of 18-22 - are often at elementary school level. So any background in early childhood is beneficial.

Additional Thoughts: This job is very fulfilling!

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