Fun Times

I worked as a substitute teacher in public schools for two years and it was quite frustrating at times.  I came to find that I enjoyed my days more when I subbed in special ed classes.  The general ed classes had lots of kids who were ready to take advantage of a subsitute teacher that doesn't know the rules of the class.  I found that in Lifeskills classes the kids were actually happy to see you and not anxious to take advantage. 

Before I knew it I was only subbing in lifeskills and eventually was hired on at a local high school.  I now love my job for the first time in my life.  I've always dreaded work until now.  It certainly still has it's own unique stresses but I love the kids that I work with.  

I am in a "one-to-one" position where I work with one individual student.  He has a condition called Fragile X and also is autistic.  He's also hilarious.  He sings a lot, knows some sign language, says the most random and funny things you can imagine, blows lots of kisses, makes tons of funny sounds.  And he's great with geography.  I was so amazed when I heard him identifying countries on a map.  He was able to find Peru, Venezuela, Iraq, Russia, France, and several other countries.  I am amazed that someone with such severe disorders is able to have that kind of mental capacity.  It's so hard to get him to just focus on one thing at a time but when you can get him to do it he has great retention.  It's just a matter of getting him to focus. 

ReformedAutomaton ReformedAutomaton
41-45, M
26 Responses Sep 9, 2008

I worked in same field as you. Autistic children are challenging but rewarding! I'm glad you are enjoying what you're doing.❤️

I would like to add you to my circle

Absolutely PrettyK. I am always up for talking about lifeskills issues. I don't have many people outside of school who can share their experiences.

I just signed up to be a paraprofessional or skills trainer that works with kids with autism. I am just training right now but once in a while I get a call from the agency, Hawaii Behavior Health, a local company, to substitute for another paraprofessional. I sure hope we can share information with each other if we become friends in EP.

so true. and rude, predatory type families suck!

Well I see what you're saying but there's kids in general ed that are are rude and take advantage of their teachers but they don't have any disorders, mental disturbances, physical disabilities, etc. They're just rude and predatory and probably learned it in their family. But, we also have kids in lifeskills that are jerks. It would strike most people as outrageous but last year we had a very low functioning cerebal palsy kid who was 21...probably won't live more than 3 years, 5 at the max. He was super cool, loving, nice, and had a great sense of humour. This year we have a new CP kid who is at the same level of the kid we had last year but he's a jerk. He spits food on us and laughs about it. When we change his undergarments and he's gone #2 it stinks horribly. He laughs as whoever is changing him as they try to keep from vomiting. It doesn't matter what kind of people you're talking about...they all have different attitudes.

isn't it tragic that kids who are eager to take advantage of their new teacher's weaknesses are--NOT seen as 'challenged' and the kind, sweet, innocent kids who are a joy to work with and teach and are happy to see you--ARE?

yes for certain...with autism it seems to me that they are able to take in so much, to understand a lot, but they can't feed back nearly as well. They can understand but not tell you about it. I'm generalizing of course.

Splintered skills is so common among special ed students that it seems to be the rule rather than the exception. To me it seemed that low cognitive functioning was rarely the problem in getting through to a student since there was seldom a skill that couldn't be broken down to much smaller steps. However getting students to focus, cooperate, or break repetitive patters were greater challenges to learning.

good job..and glad to hear that u are currently happy with your job.i'm a teacher too n i'm happy with my job :)

That's a great perspective fleshinthepan!

WOW! Can relate to the feeling of joy making a difference to a young person - and adults alike ... to access the beauty and love and CREATIVITY in a person is like swimming in pure love and happiness. <br />
<br />
I used to hate the though of teaching as it was supposed to mean ' failure as an actor and playwright' has only been recently that it is about's about embracing being able to do both and make a difference in all ways...and as much of one as possible. :)

Maisee...Puzzles are one of his "preferred activities" so he'll finish one if he's given enough time. It's something he likes so he can complete the task. There are other things that are very difficult if not impossible to get him to complete cause he doesn't enjoy the activity. I wouldn't be overly concerned if your daughter is not yet able to complete a puzzle. The kid I work with is 15 but at age 4 I'm not sure if he would be able to complete the task. <BR><BR>Thanks for the encouragement of luck to you in your new field!

You know i am finding inspiration in this. I am a teacher trainee soon to go on a teacher's practice to a regular high school and i dread that, i know how kids can be. i;m worried i will not click with them i've never even tried teaching but i have to because itls a requirement at my uni. What you all say here has given me some food for thought. my friend worked with autistic children and she shares yor feelings. The most important thing though is that you like it and find joy it. I hope you will continue to have many fruitful, enjoable years of teahing ahead of you. May winds of good fortune blow your way.

Well I hate to call the general ed kids boring but they can be little a-holes LOL... I just feel like I work better with special ed kids. I have respect for those teachers who can deal with working in general ed classes....especially in middle school.

I think sped kids are the best. Gen ed kids are so boring and like you said, sometimes they just want to take advantage. In lifeskills it seems like they still have some of that innocence and excitement the other kids are losing gradually. Plus, it's challenging mentally to engage them and try to understand their behavior. On top of that, they're just really funny, honest and caring.

Yes Maise, the most difficult part of my job is the constant attention and re-direction he requires. He is probably the most distractable kid that we have out of 25. He loves to get puzzles out and will take out as many as he can and dump them all out if I am not around to make sure he only takes out one. He does the same with books but it's not that bad. When I go to lunch others have to watch him but they tend to not watch him as closely and I'll come back to big stacks of books or puzzles. He is really awesome though and constantly entertaining to be around. <br />
<br />
Fragile X is a chromosonal disorder...we have one kid who is just fragile X and he is quite different from my kid who is also autistic and OCD. <br />
<br />
Thanks to you too is all about little victories and making progress often very slowly but progress nonetheless.

You are so right, RA, about the little victories. Which really is what the day is all about ! Isn't it a matter of "creative problem solving?" These kids are definitely capable learners, they just need someone to show them a different way of understanding. Good on you !!<br />
<br />
To Maisy- what kind of therapies have you explored with your daughter?

A little encouragement and belief can go a long way for sure. I don't understand those people who feel they must pigeonhole a kid by telling them what they can and cannot achieve. I'm probably especially sensitive to that b/c I had a father who always made sure to remind me of what he perceived to be my shortcomings. So I really try my best to put my beliefs into practice and not limit the kids by telling them what they can't do. And also constantly supporting them in even the most small or seemingly trivial "victories" (sometimes these victories are things like being able to identify an ob<x>ject, for which the kid is proud- I have a kid that points to a windsock in the classroom every day and says "That's a windsock!" and she's so proud and I say "I thought that was a rhinocerous?" and she says "no, that's a windsock!" and I say "ohhh, you're right!" and it makes her feel good.)

Thanks Sarah!

Congrats on finding a job that makes you so happy! You are really lucky and I am totally excited for you :)

Excellent work, ReformedAutomation!<br />
<br />
I have also worked with many of these kids, one with FragileX. They certainly can be quite physical and need the supervision, as you say. My student was only 7 yrs. old, so it's hard for me to imagine that same energy in dealing with a teenager. <br />
<br />
Nothing can compare to making a difference in the life of a child.

Thanks to all of you...some kids really need a one-to-one and others are more borderline. My kid definitely needs one because he wanders so much, looks in everything he can, cabinets, doors, etc. He's a disaster waiting to happen if he's not constantly supervised. I'm having trouble with him hitting today so he's getting lots of "breaks" which is the only reason why I'm able to be typing on here today. He's right next to me working on the computer. He doesn't hit hard and not in the's more like slapping or pushing away cause he doesn't want to do what I'm asking. It's also the beginning of the year and he's new to high school and just now getting into a routine. Routines are so important to these kids.

My son doesn't have a one-on-one, but he is in an environment where it's available if it becomes necessary. It's people like you who have helped him to come as far as he has. Thank you.

My son has a one-on-one as well. I really feel like she loves my son and I feel good sending him to school everyday. We are lucky parents to to have people like you working with our kids!

I'm NOT surprised by his mental capasity with geography. I have personally seen autistic and Down's children EXCEL in one or two subjects. I know one that excels in electronics and math. Another in music. It's almost like they fine-tune a genious capacity in a subject! :O