August 16, 2018 | By: Paso del Norte Children’s Development Center
I became a Direct Support Professional in education 6 years ago. It changed my life. When I started, I knew nothing about adaptive technology, speech, occupational, physical therapy, or Individual Education Plans (IEPs). They were all new to me.
But I have watched students grow and learn in innovative and better ways that make this the right job for me. Our program was truly like a family, and our students were the stars. I have seen so much progress and success, which I could write a book.
One experience that stands out to me happened in my very first year. We had welcomed a new student from another state into the program and we were getting to know her. She has multiple disabilities including but not limited to feeding, mobility, speech difficulties and cognitive impairments.
But they didn’t stop her. She loved to “scoot” around on her bottom to get where she needed to go. And she had no trouble communicating with us via her speech output device.
Our physical therapist was determined to get her walking on her own. The classroom teacher and I would spend time finding ways to motivate her to walk back and forth to us.
What motivated her the most was us making complete fools of ourselves singing silly songs to her. So, there we were. Two grown women, singing our hearts out to motivate our student to take her first steps alone. Within weeks, she was walking with help and supervision.
Years later, she’s a teenager walking to and from and learning to use public transportation to get around. Like I said, there’s no stopping her! It’s something that seems so simple now. But up until that point, it was not seen as an attainable goal.
Over the years, triumphs like these became the norm in our little program. I continue to hold them close to my heart. When we as educators invest in our students, their potential is limitless.
Here is a parent article that celebrates great teachers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.