Traumas In Youth, Strategies To Heal

Recognizing Trauma in Today’s Youth

Increasingly, school aged children are faced with traumatic events and situations that make them vulnerable to risk factors associated with mental health illnesses, chronic absenteeism, and low academic achievement, which can impact their overall quality of life.  Furthermore, students with special needs are likely to experience traumatic events at a higher rate than their non-disabled peers possibly due to cognitive, social/behavioral, and/or communication challenges.

It is important that parents and teachers collaborate and develop a plan to recognize triggers and cues associated with signs of distress with the special needs population.

Triggers

Children with special needs rely heavily on past experiences associated with trauma and are influenced greatly by the emotional reactions seen in their adult caregivers. Although each child is unique, those who know the child best can often predict the behavior or reaction likely to happen based on their observations of the child’s response to past stress related situations. 

Having an understanding and awareness to these triggers and cues can offer great insight into planning a crisis support plan that outlines specific effective interventions to minimizing the stress related impact. Common signs of distress reliant upon age and emotional development may include:

  • Becoming withdrawn, quiet or isolating from peers
  • Changes in speech patterns
  • Psychosomatic complaints (stomachaches, headaches, minor complaints of bumps and bruises)
  • Physical symptoms relating to tics, tremors, excessive sweating
  • Increasingly irritable or distractible
  • Task avoidance to preferred activities
  • Verbal or physical aggression
  • Outbursts or temper tantrums to changes in routines
  • An overreaction to common occurrences
  • Appearing lethargic or fatigued, lack of energy
  • Disruption in sleep and eating patterns
  • Regressive behavior (thumb sucking, enuresis, nightmares, clingy
  • Exhibiting overly anxious or worrisome tendencies
  • Difficulty concentrating or learning or problem solving

Strategies to Heal

Sensory or physical limitations: Students with vision, hearing or physical limitations that do not possess developmental or cognitive deficits can understand information that is appropriate to their age.

During stressful situations, safety and mobility become a heightened need for reassurance. Practice safety drills, patterns of exit/entry into safe places, use visual supports in conjunction with verbal signals, create a safety box of materials (flashlight, batteries for hearing aids, item of comfort), use concrete, clear explanations and check for understanding.

Emotional Behavioral limitations: Students with emotional or behavioral limitations can have limited coping skills for normal, every day life situations and are particularly vulnerable when exposed to trauma or stress. Increased noncompliance, physical and verbal aggression, elopement, oppositional behavior, and risk-taking behaviors (sexually acting out, substance abuse, self-injurious, suicidal thoughts, fascination with violence or weapons) are examples of critical warning signs that warrant immediate attention.

Reviewing functional behavioral assessments and Behavior Intervention Plans, establishing a check in system with mentors, providing immediate schedules of reinforcement and consistent routines with frequent breaks are strategies to employ. 

Learning Disabilities: Students with learning limitations may require additional supports to process thoughts, feelings, and their understanding of events and information. They may experience challenges with concepts involving time, space, abstract reasoning, language and semantics.

Use concrete vocabulary terms, show visuals, provide clear, concise explanations and ensure their understanding.

Acts of healing that help special needs students process trauma and stress can benefit all children include:

  • Making cards and writing letters to the parties involved
  • Drawing and coloring in journals
  • Honoring affected parties with acts of kindness
  • Fundraising for relief efforts
  • Volunteering for charitable events

Experiencing trauma and stress is universal to all children, but employing effective, specialized supports proactively can lessen the impact it has on their overall well-being. To learn more about helping children heal from trauma, visit https://www.nctsn.org

 

 
 

Top Special Education Degree Specializations to Consider in 2018

If you are passionate for changing the lives of children and young adults and have a gift for teaching students with specific needs, enhancing your skillset by choosing an area of specialization in the field of special education can provide unique benefits and make you more marketable in today’s workforce.

Here’s some guidelines to help you figure out exactly what it takes to earn your special education degree and explore some of the possible special education degree specializations that you should consider in 2018.

In Demand Special Education Degree Specializations

The demand for special education teachers has surged across the United States as a Master’s degree in Special Education is currently ranked 6th in popularity of the 50 most popular online master’s degree programs.  Below are several specializations gaining increased interest for students wanting to concentrate their talents for students with specialized needs. 

While most master’s program do not require students to select an area of specialization, there are significant benefits to doing so. Specializing your education not only makes you more valuable — it also makes the education you provide to students and clients more valuable. 

Here are several specializations that have especially gained popularity for students beginning their degrees in 2017 & 2018:

Special Education Degree SpecializationsMild/Moderate Disabilities

This specialization prepares you to effectively teach students with varying exceptionalities to include, autism spectrum disorders, emotional and behavioral difficulties, specific learning and language impairments, traumatic brain injuries, and orthopedic and other health impairments.

Coursework will likely include:

  • Curriculum, Assessment and differentiated instructional practices
  • Language Development
  • Research based practices in Math and English Language Arts
  • Behavioral, Social and Communication disorders
  • Classroom Management

Typical program of studies for mild/moderate disabilities range from 30-40 required hours of credits once an elementary or secondary teaching certification is obtained. This specialization applies to students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, up to the age of 22.

The core curriculum of the online MSEd in Special Education from Purdue University focuses on mild intervention for high-incidence conditions to  intense intervention. The program offers several options to meet your career needs.

Deaf or Hard Of Hearing

The DHH specialization qualifies general education teachers, special education teachers, speech pathologists, occupational and physical therapists, and sign language interpreters to work with students with varying levels of hearing loss. Coursework can take up to 2 years to complete for you to gain competencies that will help support the learning and development of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students.

Topics in coursework will likely include:

  • Differentiated Curriculum and Instruction
  • Language Acquisition and Literacy Development
  • Sign language systems in Education
  • Adaptive and Assistive Technology

Saint Joseph’s University’s online Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing PK-12  program of study uniquely prepares students in the latest technology to facilitate engaging learning experiences, as well as plan specialized curriculum, effectively manage a classroom, and provide opportunities to enhance sign language interpretation skills. The last course in Saint Joseph’s University program involves field experience comprised of a 14-week student teaching assignment intended to immerse you in the deaf or hard of hearing teaching experience.

Early Childhood Special Education

You’ll assist children with both mild/moderate and severe emotional or learning difficulties. You’ll also learn how to teach children who have suffered brain injuries/damage.

However, unlike the other areas, you’ll only be able to teach children from birth to pre-kindergarten.

Throughout your coursework, you’ll study several forms of developmental psychology, learn how to assess different needs and disorders, and even learn how to arrange your classroom so that it can best benefit your students.

You’ll likely also spend a lot of time learning the basics of child psychology, and undergo on-the-job training so that you can handle emergency health situations and behavioral issues in the classroom.

The online Master’s Degree in Special Education from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota focuses on developing the ability of students to:

  • Create an inclusive environment in a mainstream classroom, allowing each student to learn to their full potential
  • Reach students across all levels and types of disabilities by developing understanding of various student backgrounds and disabilities
  • Every course touches upon intercultural competence

Blindness/Visual Impairments

Coursework in this specialization will prepare you with the skills and knowledge to effectively address the unique educational needs of students with visual impairments or blindness. Candidates take core courses in general education, special education and specialization courses in visual impairments.   

Specifically, teaching balance, sensory/spatial awareness, as well as body awareness are key life skills in addition to teaching students how to read and write in Braille.

Knowledge of specialized equipment and interactive software programs enhance the learning experience and compensatory skill development for students with visual impairments.

Course topics include:

  • Literary Braille
  • Communication Systems Used by Persons with Visual Impairments
  • Instructional Systems for Utilization of Low Vision
  • Assistive and Adaptive Technology
  • Orientation and Mobility

Applied Behavior Analysis

If your interest lies in how to better understand human behavior to help people achieve their maximum potential, then obtaining this next certification will prove beneficial. The field of Applied Behavior Analysis has an expected growth rate of 33% by 2020. Hence, the expertise of ABA specialists is critically in demand of social service organizations, public education programs, non-profits, and other industries where understanding and improving human behavior are crucial.  

Saint Joseph’s University offers an online Applied Behavior Analysis Concentration that prepares individuals to address the demands of challenging behaviors seen in Special Education settings. The courses are intended to prepare students for the BCBA certification exam.

The assessment of individuals with behavioral challenges, developing behavior intervention plans, and studying the environmental impact on behavior are among the skills learned.

Coursework will likely include:

  • Behavioral Development
  • Clinical Behavioral Analysis
  • Ethical Principles in Behavioral Analysis

Graduates of a certificate in applied behavior analysis are prepared for positions such as behavior specialists, criminal justice professionals, human services professionals, and substance abuse counselors.

Occupational Therapy

Every state has different standards for credentialing the role of an Occupational Therapist — but across all of them, a master’s degree is the minimum requirement for entry to the field. In school environments, occupational therapists are part of ESE Support Services that work with students to assist in all types of activities from caring for daily needs to using a computer or participating in physical exercises to increase strength and dexterity.

Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

 

Coursework will likely include:

  • Theoretical Basis of Occupational Therapy
  • Assessment of Patients
  • Design and Implementation of Therapy Plans
  • Applicable Laws and Standards of Professional Ethics
  • Supervised Clinical Experience

The median annual Occupational Therapist salary is $83,901, as of January 30, 2018, with a range usually between $76,854$91,415, however this can vary widely depending on a variety of factors (including geography).

Licensing requirements by state vary, but typically require candidates to graduate from an accredited program in occupational therapy and pass examinations. Certification is optional but desirable, and is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

How Much Can You Expect To Earn?

While salaries vary county-to-county and state-to-state, here is a quick breakdown of the (national) median annual special education salaries across different tracks now:

  • Preschool Special Ed Teachers: Roughly $50,000
  • Elementary Special Ed Teachers: Roughly $50,000
  • Middle School Special Ed Teachers: Roughly $53,000
  • High School Special Ed Teachers: Roughly $55,000

Find An Online Master’s in Special Education Degree That’s Right For You

These in demand special education degree concentrations allow you to gain the knowledge and expertise in helping students with varying exceptionalities who may learn differently and respond to approaches other than conventional methods of teaching. Click here to find a special education program or use our job finder board to connect with the right opportunity for you.

 

 

 
 
 

The Art of Special Education Administration

Looking for career advancement? Becoming a special education administrator is one way of taking your career to the next level.

Characteristics of an Effective Administrator

There are some general qualifications employers look for when seeking someone in administration. Some of these qualities are:

  • Overseers. An administrative role requires strong managerial skills. Special education administrators oversee teachers and principals from various schools. They can also be responsible for the oversight of members in a school district to ensure they are complying with federal, state and local regulations.
  • Leaders. Strong leaders create an environment for success. Leaders set a positive vision of direction for their employees. They invest in developing people and help them utilize their strengths and skills.
  • Experienced Teachers. To become an administrator, it is important to have experience in the classroom. Good teachers are at the core of a solid and successful school system. Walking in another’s shoes is a great way to understand what employees face daily. Being in the classroom also provides hands-on experience in understanding students and learning.
  • Problem Solvers. Special education administrators are faced with a variety of challenges. So having strong problem-solving skills is critical to their role. Problems solvers can look at issues in unique and innovative ways. They shape the environment by using resources creatively so plans can be carried out effectively.
  • Decision Makers. Being an administrator requires complex decision making. Decisions on how to spend money, productivity, training, and the effectiveness of programs are all things a special education administrator may face. Taking an active role and being confident in decision-making abilities creates a more secure workplace.

Education and Wages

A higher level degree is required for those seeking an administrative role. But with today’s technology, furthering one’s education is easier than ever. Online programs offer flexibility for the working student. Students can easily work when it is convenient for them while still receiving the support and guidance of professors in their degree program.

Getting this higher level degree can pay off when it comes to salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the median salary of an educational administrator was $92,510, well above that of a special education teacher.

Duties

Administrators in special education have a range of duties. At the center of all those duties is making sure student’s needs are being met. Other duties include:

  • Strategic planning. Each school has a mission and a vision. Strategic planning is simply the roadmap of how to accomplish this. A special education administrator will help create measurable goals in order to meet the mission and vision of the school. This helps ensure the program’s success along the way.
  • Monitoring budget. Administrators are responsible for planning the budget and making sure the program is operating within those limits. They think of ways to operate more efficiently as well.
  • Compliance. Special education is held to rules and regulations set by federal and state governments. Funds are allocated for specific areas and purposes. The role of administration is to make sure the way the money is used is documented and used properly and resourcefully.
  • Improving academic outcomes. It is critical to the success of a school system to make sure improvement is happening. A special education administrator can look and see if standards are being met academically. This analysis can be used to encourage change or continue to implement strategies that are working on a wider platform.
  • Guidance. Support is critical for teachers, principals and other administrators. Effective special education administrators will help mobilize others. As they travel to various schools, they will offer encouragement, help troubleshoot problem areas, and carry out plans.

Special Education Career Profile: Teacher of the Deaf

Teaching in the field of special education can give you a variety of career options. You can choose age/grade level, type of disability, or even the type of program you teach in. Being a teacher of the deaf can be a very rewarding, yet challenging, career choice.

What Does A Teacher of the Deaf Do?

The role of the teacher of the deaf can vary depending on the setting. According to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED), the teacher’s role is to:

  • Establish a classroom or other learning environment to meet the physical, cognitive, cultural, linguistic, and communicative needs of the child;
  • Plan and utilize strategies, appropriate materials, and resources for implementing educational experiences that support the development of communicative competence;
  • Provide consistent comprehensible language(s) appropriate to the needs of the child regardless of the modality or form;
  • Apply first and second language teaching strategies to teaching English (e.g., through ASL appropriate to the needs of the child and consistent with the program philosophy);
  • Facilitate and support communication among deaf and hard of hearing children and adults, hearing children and adults, including family/caregivers;
  • Monitor and evaluate the child’s communicative competence on a regular basis in academic and nonacademic contexts including the child’s use of signs, cues, speech, and/or assistive technologies;
  • Provide instruction and/or support for effective use of communication supports such as interpreting, transliteration, note-taking, real-time captioning, telecommunications, and computing.

Teacher of the Deaf Responsibilities, Knowledge and Skills

As a teacher of the deaf, you should have a working knowledge of hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM equipment, as well as understand and be able to interpret audiograms. You may have to share this information with school staff members or families. You may also have to and supervise paraprofessionals and sign language interpreters.

As with any special education teacher, you will have to develop and maintain compliant IEP‘s as well as assess students in the areas of academics, language, and communication.

Where Teachers of the Deaf Work

Young elementary school student signing the letter I for the class.There are a few educational options to where a teacher of the deaf can teach. All fifty states have schools for the deaf, as well as District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Students with hearing loss may also attend public schools. In areas where there is a high population of deaf students, there may be center schools for the deaf. Students are bussed in from several areas to one specific school.

A teacher of the deaf may either provide instruction and support in a separate class or as a resource teacher in a general education or special education classroom.

Deaf students may also attend their neighborhood school. If this is the case, the student may be the only deaf student at the school. Here, an itinerant teacher may be utilized. Itinerant teachers generally cover several schools in an area and provide one on one support to the student as well as collaborate with the classroom teacher.

Classroom or resource teachers serve students in a specific age range, where itinerant teachers tend to cover students pre-k through 12th grade.

Salary, Education and Certification

Certification for a teacher of the deaf varies from state to state. There are several colleges that offer bachelor and master degrees in education of the deaf. While you don’t have to have a degree in deaf education, you must be able to pass the state certification test. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary is $53,220.

If you are looking for a career where you can support students’ communication needs, as well as their academic, social, and independent functioning needs, work with parents and professionals on understanding hearing loss, and have a variety of classroom settings to work in, then you should consider becoming a teacher of the deaf.