It takes patience, skill and dedication to teach children who have special needs and developmental brain disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder. Some children who have ASD comprehend slowly and learning objectives might take more time. What about working with children who have ASD is rewarding to their teachers?
Our production team interviewed two special education teachers for a project about how to teach routines to children who have ASD. Teachers Ching-I Chen and Luqman Malik had some interesting and inspiring things to say about the profession they have chosen to work in.
Ching-I Chen is originally from Taiwan. She specializes in early childhood special education, mostly with immigrant families. The best thing to Chen is helping frustrated parents get some relief.
She says, “For these children, even though most of the time the progress they make is just a small step, but it really makes us feel proud. By helping parents, you see they feel relieved when they figure out the strategies they can use at home or how they can communicate with their children. You just feel good you are helping people make changes in their lives.
“Mostly I help immigrant families, people who have English as their second language. When I start working with them, I usually see their frustration. The parents are not able to understand the system in the United States because they are not sophisticated in English so it’s really difficult for them to express their wants and needs. Every time that I help their children learn something, and they finally understand the services they can get in this country, I think that’s the most rewarding thing.”
Luqman Malik teaches six boys in a dedicated classroom at the Bridgeway School, a private school for children who have ASD in grades K-12 in Eugene, Oregon. Luqman loves the unique qualities of each child who has ASD.
He says, “I was working in an after-school program in Philadelphia and there were two children in the group who weren’t diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s, but we (myself and the parents and some of the faculty) had suspicions that they might be on the spectrum. I played a lot of chess with them so it became obvious to me that many of these children are technical and like problem-solving and that’s something I like.
“There are a lot of things that you will find unique about people with ASD and working with them. In our social experience, we’re often times exclusive to a lot of people. This particular population experiences it in a particular way that’s interesting to me. They oftentimes have deep intellectual abilities, physical abilities, and athletic abilities that are not realized unless they are in a particular environment that allows it to flourish.
“I get to experience the abilities and talents that they have and setting up environments where they get to realize their abilities and talents themselves. (The Bridgeway School) is an environment where they are not being excluded from typical learning or social experiences. In fact, they’re fully engaged in them. So watching this and being a part of it is very rewarding.”