“Once you learn to appreciate small victories, there is no need for a finish line.”
This quote is very true when you work with children who have special needs. Of course I have goals for the children that I work with, but let me tell you, when a child has a small victory it just makes you feel like you have conquered the world. In working with children you come to understand that every child is different. It doesn’t matter if they have special needs or not. They are all different. However, I am an EI so I work with children who have special needs. Some of you may ask, “What is an EI?” EI stands for Early Interventionist. I work with children who have special needs from the time they are born up through the time they go to school. Some of them will “graduate” the program when they reach their goals, which is always awesome. And then others will graduate when they move on to school. Either way, they have the help they need to make it on their journey of life.
I work with children with all sorts of different needs. Some of my children have been diagnose with autism, some of them will be diagnosed with autism, some have physical disabilities, some have speech delays, some have other delays. It just depends on the child. When one of my kids meets a goal or has a breakthrough it is amazing. We like to celebrate because it helps them know they are doing something good.
As an EI, I go into the home having a rough idea of what I am going to work on that day. Sometimes it goes to plan and sometimes it doesn’t. But, honestly, the days that it doesn’t go to plan are usually the days that the child I’m working with amazes me with a new talent. Now, don’t go thinking that this is an easy job and I’m just there playing with kids. I do play with them because that is how I teach them, but there are days that are very hard. There are days that I wonder what I am doing because I don’t feel like I’m doing anything to help. There are days we sit and read books because that’s all we can handle that day. Or there are days where the child I’m working with might just need hugs a lot. As an EI you have to learn what your kids need to help them grow. This can be frustrating at times, but it is also very rewarding.
I am a source of support for the family. They know that I am there to help them with whatever they may need when it comes to their child. Sometimes parents with children who have special needs just need someone to talk to. Sometimes that person is me. After my visit with the family I may just sit there and listen to the parent talk about things their child has been doing or not doing. Sometimes they just need someone who understands their child to listen and not judge them. All of these are roles that fall under and EI’s “job description”.
Therapies are another way that the family can get support. As an EI I work on many different things, but if a child is struggling with a certain thing like speech I can refer them for speech therapy. This is another support that a family can have. By referring them for more help, the child is more likely to make progress. Sitting in on therapies that my children go to helps me learn new ideas to incorporate into my time with the children. This can be very helpful for me and the family.
From my perspective, there is a lot that can help a family with children that have special needs. I like to do everything I can to make sure they have all of the help that they need. I make sure that they have therapies and that these therapies are working for them. I come to their therapies from time to time to see how things are going. I check in with the therapists to see if there is something else that needs to be done or changed. This is all part of being an EI and making sure these children have everything they need to make the most out of their lives.
I absolutely love seeing the progress these children make. I love hearing the families talk about how much change they have seen and what they are still hoping to see from their children. It is a hard, but rewarding job.