May 26, 2016.
The day marked an entire year since I’d started my job working as an Instructional Aide for children/clients with Autism. It might not seem like a big deal, but it really is a big deal.
While working with children with Autism was not incredibly brand new to me (I had previously dabbled in in-home ABA therapy months prior), working with an age-specific group in a classroom setting was another level.
However, I knew that this school was exactly where I wanted to be. I didn’t even have to finish my interview to know that. I ditched the after-school program director position, took a slight pay cut, and went on to become an Instructional Aide.
I regret nothing.
Some days my patience is tested, other days I feel that I really have my ducks in a row. But one thing is for sure: I love my job. Every day is a blessing in which I get to share with these kids. Don’t even get me started on the staff that I am lucky to work with. What makes our job so much fun is that we mesh so well. The team work instilled between our classroom helps our children to grow in every aspect. I’d have to say, the kids are just as lucky, if not more, that they have such a great team of teachers/aides.
I graced the staff with a box of Krispy Kreme donuts on my one year anniversary. Because it’s not about me, it’s about all of us.
With that, here are five fun little things that I’ve personally learned in the last year:
- Things could be way worse than you think. Getting peed on, or having food smashed into your hair isn’t the end of the world. Embrace it, and also remember to have extra clothes in your car. Don’t forget the shower after work, either.
- Disney songs are a huge hit at any point in the day. You are going to find at least three kids who love Disney songs and are willing to sing them with you while swinging on a bench swing. (“Let It Go” is a huge hit right now…. Still.) Brush up on your Disney lyrics, for real.
- Lock the car windows. Because all hell will break loose if your child randomly decides to throw his ball (aka highly preferred reinforcer) out the window while riding home from the pool. Be thankful that your boss will notice said ball on the side of the road and will bring it back. This is something I learned on the first time I drove the kids. 😛
- Smiles, tickles, high fives, and hugs are the best things in the world. No need to elaborate on this. I am so lucky that most of my kids love these kind of sensory things. If you got happy kids, you’re gonna be happy also.
- Celebrate the little victories. It’s a day-to-day type situation with these kids. Using their AAC device to communicate feelings, setting up their lunch, counting to five… To a neuro-typical kid, these are nothing. For my kids, it’s hard work, it’s a challenge. But the moment something clicks, it’s all about high reinforcement and praises! Don’t forget to celebrate your own little work victories, either! 🙂
Work is my happy place, and it keeps me balanced between the chaos is that is my life outside. It is my hope that others find a career that is just rewarding to them as mine is for me.