CAREER WATCH| Enabling the differently able
Special education is — as the term suggests — a field that involves teaching children with special needs and the mentally challenged.
This is not a new field but it has become popular of late following the entry of many non-governmental organisations, creating numerous career opportunities for those so inclined.
The main purpose of a special educator is to help students develop a set of skills that will help them lead as normal a life as possible.
Students include those suffering from cerebral palsy, autism, multiple disabilities, or any other condition that requires particular care and attention.
A special educator plays the role of both a teacher and a care-giver often. You would also have to double up as a counsellor.
A special educator needs to be emotionally strong, compassionate and persistent. An enthusiasm for the job, as well as a pleasant personality and positive outlook, are priceless assets. Crucially, you need to have an interest in medical terminology and an in-depth knowledge of the diseases and different medical conditions.
There are plenty of opportunities in this field, especially in special schools run by both government and private agencies.
With many NGO’s coming up in this field, there is no dearth of opportunities. And there are many courses in special education available.
To take up special education as a career, one can take a specialised course in training children with different handicaps.
These courses can be taken up after class XII. Alternatively, there is a specialised one-year course for which a Bachelor’s degree with an endorsement for teaching Early Childhood Special Education, is a minimum requirement.
Coursework includes studying assessment of infants and very young children and understanding a wide array of disabling conditions in children from birth to five years of age. A Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education is also offered at some universities.