by Naomi Guth
Just seeing how their minds work. I’ve always thought it was really interesting how different people learn differently, and when it comes to kids with special needs, it’s even more engaging. Sometimes it’s hard figuring out what a specific child needs, but when it clicks, when you figure something out, it feels amazing. I’ve been working with a particular student on the autism spectrum throughout the year, and I’ve found little things that help him learn, such as computer games or videos, really anything that’s interactive in some way. Each time I’ve discovered something different about this student, I feel like a fill in another piece of the puzzle, and each week that puzzle becomes clearer and clearer and I eventually know how this boy thinks. I’ve actually been watching a show called “The Good Doctor” which features a main character with autism, and his thought process seems very similar to my student’s. It’s so fun to watch the show and see the parallels and be able to say, “hey, I remember applying that to my student last week!”
I also enjoy just getting to know these kids on a personal level. Getting to work with them on an individual level not only lets me learn how each child absorbs information but their personalities and interests as well. Just a week or two ago I was chatting with a kid in the class I help out in. He’s normally fairly rowdy, not always the best-behaved, but I just talked to him. I asked him how school is, what he thinks of the class at KI, what non-academic activities he likes to do, and it helped me to know him better as a person and understand why he’s not always well-behaved, and I think that was a discovery I made that made me really happy to be a TAP teen. No matter who the child is or what learning disabilities or needs they may have, making them feel comfortable and that your their friend can make a world of a difference in behavior and ability to learn. Acting like a boss or taking charge of everything they do can often make a situation worse, so getting to talk to this kid, just getting to know him and showing that I’m just a person like him, was a big step in the right direction for me as an assistant and teacher, and I don’t know that I would have been able to do that without TAP. It’s been a great experience so far and I hope to make more discoveries that make waking up at 8:00 AM on a Sunday even more enjoyable.