5 Uplifting Benefits of Becoming a Special Education Assistant
As with every nation, Canada has many residents who can be classified as disabled or requiring special needs. It's a simple fact of life. Some children are born with developmental disorders like cerebral palsy or Down syndrome. Others are born with physical limitations or eventually develop them as a result of injuries or genetic conditions. And still others are affected by learning disabilities or other mental conditions that can make being a student extra challenging. Just look at the numbers:
- More than three out of every 100 Canadian children under the age of 15 has a disability.*
- Close to 60 percent of all children with disabilities in Canada have a learning disability.**
- When it comes to special education services, more than three out of 10 disabled children across the country have difficulty receiving access to them.***
Clearly, a need exists for more professionals who can help disabled students overcome their challenges. That's one reason why becoming a teacher or educational assistant who specializes in special education can be a smart move. But here are five more potential benefits worth keeping in mind:
1. Genuine Meaning and Social Connection
Pause for a moment and imagine the sense of purpose and accomplishment you might experience from seeing a disabled student succeed at something that used to be beyond his or her capability. Now imagine countless moments like that. As a special education assistant, you can connect with amazing people that others might mistakenly overlook, and watch them enjoy the fruits of their discovery and growth.
2. Creative Challenges That Provide Joy
The field of special education can be full of delightful surprises and opportunities to think outside the box. Beyond developing fun activities, you can put your creativity to work to solve fascinating problems that naturally arise while helping students with disabilities learn anything from reading to math to speaking to social skills. Helping to plan specialized curriculums and lessons for such students can be extra engaging and enjoyable.
3. A Fast Education
You don't need to spend very long in school to become a special education assistant. In fact, most college programs in this field take just one year or less to complete. Many of them even incorporate practical experience in a real educational setting.
4. Respectable Pay and Great Employment Variety
The median annual pay for full-time elementary and secondary school education assistants in Canada is $42,661. But some earn more than $55,640.**** Plus, you can find potential employers in a lot of different settings. For example, it's possible to find jobs related to special education at public schools, private schools, child-care centres, special residential homes, community and after-school drop-in centres, and recreational facilities.
5. The Chance to Specialize in the Area You Like Most
Many different kinds of disabilities exist, and that means this field can allow you to specialize in working with a particular type of disabled student. For example, some people choose to work with children who have autism spectrum disorder, whereas others choose to provide support to kids with emotional or behavioural challenges. With the right training, you can even pursue opportunities like being an interpreter for the hearing impaired, teaching life skills to those with visual impairments, or specializing in working with infants, toddlers, or preschoolers who have multiple disabilities.
* Rick Hansen Foundation, website last accessed on July 20, 2016.
** Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, website last accessed on July 20, 2016.
*** Canadian Council on Social Development, website last visited on July 20, 2016.
**** Government of Canada, Job Bank, website last accessed on January 24, 2017.