Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What I Learned From Working With A Special Needs Boy

My school has a special (and awesome) program. For one school year, it partners 20ish able 8th graders each with a special needs buddy who would otherwise not be able to participate in P.E. For the past school year, I was a tutor, and my buddy was Brian, one of the more severely-disabled buddies of the bunch. He could not run, was easily distracted, and did not talk other than simple words like "shower", "water", "sleepy", etc. He was taller than me, making controlling him a complicated task. Today I'm going to be sharing lessons that I have learned from working with Brian.

1. Be thankful for your abilities.
    I think that sometimes we take for granted the simple things that we are very lucky to be able to do,
such as play sports, run, and even speak in sentences, none of which some of the buddies could do.

2. Patience will get you far in life.
    When working with someone with special needs, patience is extremely important. There is a slim
chance that he or she will understand what you are trying to tell them the first time you instruct them, and repeating yourself will become a must. However, if you stay calm and patient, you will realize that everything will be okay, and that getting angry or frustrated is not going to help anything.

3. It's not all about winning.
    In the regular P.E. classes at my school, everyone is really competitive, and it's truly all
    about winning (and staying safe/having fun- or so they say). However, when working with
    special needs kids, it's important to celebrate the small victories (high-fives are often used) such
    as kicking a ball towards the right goal, or shooting the ball somewhat near the basket. No one
     was really keeping score all year- everyone was encouraging.

4. Give effort in everything you do.
    Although my buddy was unable to truly play any of the sports, he still came out to P.E. each
    day and attempted to do what I requested of him. Even though it may not be your favorite thing
    in the world, giving effort goes a long way.

Despite the challenges that went along woth working with Brian, I'm so glad that I did this class and I feel like it was a life-changing experience!



  1. Wow, Alyssa!! I am reading this and practically in tears. This is really touching and such a fabulous post. Keep it up!!
    xo Faith from The Petite Pearl

    1. Thank you so much Faith! I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Thanks for your encouraging comment!