I am looking for a teacher for my teenage son but not just any teacher. Let me explain…
My writings are usually twofold: state the reality of unacceptable procedures and experiences so things can change and communicate with Autism Parents about what is out there so they can make informed decisions. As you know from my blog entry titled “Special Needs Schools in Trinidad & Tobago“, many Autism Parents have to fork out big bucks (5 figure fees per term for mostly unqualified teachers) to educate their children or simply home school them. However, when a child is at the stage of CSEC more than home schooling is needed.
While governments continue to have their many lengthy conferences and talks about ‘what to do’ with regards to educating special needs children in our country, days are passing by with Autism Parents having to take matters into their own hands. In this blog entry, I want to focus on what is needed in order to teach a child on the spectrum. Many of you will eagerly say “Autism training” or “A special education degree” and even though you’re certainly right, that is only part of what is needed.
I want to back track a bit and focus on the service involved and the ingrained traits that don’t come automatically with a certificate such as patience, consistency, flexibility, understanding, etc. Let’s be honest, Trinidad is not known for its service, in fact most people complain about it and yet continue to patronize the establishments they moan over. Even the Honourable PM Dr. Keith Rowley, made a comment about our lack of customer service stating that he gets better service in a Burger King in Miami than in Trinidad. While others might still buy an item from someone who isn’t wholly hospitable, I, on the other hand will not put my children through that. No, no… when it comes to my children the person must fit certain criteria:
UNDERSTANDING – To be a teacher of a special child you need to understand your student. Knowing their strong points, how they learn and adjusting YOURSELF to suit is a must, not the other way around.
PATIENCE and FLEXIBILITY – Your special student may not get what you are saying the first time or the second or the third time. It may take going over the same material or statement many times. Get ready for many questions, voicing opinions or going off on tangents at times – the special child’s perspective of the world is different to yours so they comprehend things one step at a time.
CONSISTENCY – Keep times and appointments or if something unexpected comes up communicate it. Children on the spectrum do not adjust to change very well. If they are expecting to be taught a certain subject at a certain time, then follow through with it.
My children range between the ages of 7-15 so I can tell you from experience that in their younger years it was easier to find a teacher for them. However, older children on the spectrum aiming for the CSEC examinations but cannot keep up with main stream schooling, will find it more challenging to get ready for exams like CSEC because the syllabus is demanding, more explanation is needed and one on one instruction will need to take place. A lot of mainstream teachers, do not like putting extra time into a special child because it takes away from other students’ time.
The other issue is the incessant bullying by both the teachers and their peers – for a special child this makes bullying an astronomical task as it would for a neurotypical child. Just imagine a child on the spectrum who struggles with sound has to hear noisy students from surrounding classrooms while trying to remain focused. In the end, private tutoring is required at the level of CSEC. The cost of such an undertaking for 5 ‘O’ levels is massive.
Now, with all that said who can you recommend as a registered teacher (Does not need to be a special needs teacher) who is experienced in preparing students for the CSEC examination as well as possesses those characteristics previously mentioned?
Small groups or individual attention preferred. Please use the comment button below or contact me.