by Andrew Danowitz
Temple Sholom of Broomall
Things I learned: Before enrolling in the TAP program, there were many things that I did not know about specific disabilities and their effects on people. I think there is a common misconception that because individuals have disabilities, they are incapable of doing anything. At TAP, I learned that disabled people are very intelligent, they often just express themselves differently. The major traits needed to work with people who have disabilities are patience and understanding. Being patient is one of the most important elements I learned that helps me work with and understand people, (mostly younger kids) with disabilities.
Helpful strategies: The TAP program introduced me to a variety of helpful ways to work with disabled individuals that I try to use when they need assistance. The main strategy that I learned from TAP was to give three positive comments for every negative comment. By using this technique, when I reprimand students they will not take the negative comment in such a harsh manner because I also used some positive reinforcement to address the issue. Another very effective strategy is to incorporate games and visual aids while teaching. For example, instead of learning with just pencil and paper, the students I work with often use play-doh. This way they are most likely going to pay attention more and have fun as well.
Why I am proud to be a TAP teen: I am proud to be a TAP teen because I enjoy helping kids with special needs. Being a TAP teen is also a great way for me to give back to my community. At my synagogue, Temple Sholom in Broomall, I use many of the skills that I learned at TAP with the students I assist. I also have shared what I learned at TAP with my friends who work at the synagogue as Madrichim. The skills I learned at TAP have helped me in other scenarios as well. For example, at my high school I took a preschool class and many of the strategies I learned at TAP, I used in this class. TAP is a very positive program that is constantly trying to make the world a better place. I am honored to be a part of TAP and enjoy serving as a representative of this program.
What I enjoy the most about working with children with learning differences/special needs: TAP has allowed me to make a difference when I interact with all children. I enjoy knowing that I am able to have a positive impact on these children. I also enjoy seeing students who I work with grow. The skills I learned at TAP helped me teach and prepare disabled children for many situations such as when they present a project to the rest of the class. No matter what type of learning differences or special needs someone may have, everyone should be treated with kindness and equal respect.As a Madrichim I work the most with one particular student. He is a very intelligent student who just has some issues paying attention and staying on task. The TAP program provided me with the skills to help him stay focused.