Careers in Special Needs Choosing to have a career in working with individuals with special needs must not be made lightly.  While there is a huge satisfaction emotionally and professionally there can be draw backs also.  It’s easy to become emotionally involved with every one of your clients but working with the harder cases can be difficult until you see a break through. Following is a list of the most common careers to choose from dealing with special needs people, followed by a brief description. Early/Pre-K to 12th Grade Special Education Teacher Special education teachers work with children and youth who display a variety of disabilities.  In their classroom they may have students bound to wheel chairs, with autism, oppositional defiant disorder and a plethora of other conditions.  The special education classroom is an environment that relies on working closely with general education teachers, speech pathologists, therapists, parents and other pertinent personnel to best meet the needs of the special needs child. Low-incidence Disabilities Teachers Special educations teachers who work with students who have a more significant cognitive or physical needs generally work in a self-contained classroom with a teaching assistant.  While the general course study is used as a guide, the curriculum is often subject to modification to suit each student’s needs and abilities. High-incidence Disabilities Teachers Special education teachers who work with students with a high-incidence disability such as behavioral disorders, speech-language disorders and learning disabilities.  They co-teach with a general education teacher which keeps the child in a general classroom throughout the day. Speech-Language Pathologist Speech therapists assess, diagnose, treat and help to prevent or assist with disorders related to speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, fluency and swallowing.  They generally work in their own office or resource room. Occupational Therapist Occupational therapists help individuals improve their ability to perform tasks in living and working environments.  The therapist helps students not only improve their basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also compensate for permanent loss of function.  Computer programs are widely used to assist in their therapy. Physical Therapist Physical therapists provide services that help restore function, relieve pain, improve mobility and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients with injuries or disease.  They maintain, restore, and promote overall fitness and health. Regardless of the occupation that you choose you’ll sure to be rewarded in working with your students or clients.  College education and degrees are a necessity in all fields listed.  Consider all options and the degree of involvement you wish to have with your potential future clients.
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