10 Skills Needed in Careers Working with Special Needs Children (2023)

10 Skills Needed in Careers Working with Special Needs Children (1)

Careers working with special needs children are not only meaningful but also in high demand. In fact, special education preschool jobs are expected to grow up to 21 percent through 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This shows that professionals trained to work with special needs children will be a hot commodity for years to come.

So how can you gain an edge in this promising field? By pairing an early childhood education (ECE) degree with a specialization in special needs, you’ll acquire the skills and experience needed to succeed in this field, according to Dr. Cecelia Westby, academic director of early childhood education at Collegis Education.

“The more tools in your toolbox, the better advocate you can be for children and families,” Westby says.

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To help you decide which tools are worth focusing on, we used real-time job analysis software from Burning-Glass.com to identify the top skills needed for careers working with special needs children. Here’s what we found:

Top 10 skills needed for working with special needs children

“The more tools in your toolbox, the better advocate you can be for children and families."

Below you’ll find the 10 most important skills employers are seeking when hiring for careers working with special needs children. Determine which of these skills you already possess and which you are interested in developing in order to become a desirable candidate in the workforce.

1. First aid

Most professional child care providers must know CPR, though each state has different requirements. The same standards will apply to applicants for positions with children with special needs. First aid training is also an important skill in your personal life, considering 50,000 yearly deaths could be prevented and drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in young children. CPR certification courses are available to anyone online or in a classroom through the American Heart Association.

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2. Case management

Case management is the process of taking care of a client’s health and human service needs, according to the Commission for Case Manager Certification. Identifying children’s problems and working with families will take a liaison familiar with the ups and downs of family life—just like you! Case managers act as a support and resource for families in crisis. Examples of specific duties can include assisting with family, school and transportation problems, evaluating unique needs and working with families to achieve goals.

3. Psychology

Knowledge of psychology can be beneficial to students when applied in the classroom. This skill can help you understand why a child is acting in a certain way. That means when you face a challenging situation in the classroom, you will have the skill to get to the root of the problem and respond appropriately.

You don’t need to earn a master’s or PhD, just be sure to make use of any previous psychology credits you may have. You might also consider supplementing your degree with psychology classes, although many ECE programs have them built into the curriculum. In some states a certain number of psychology classes are required.

4. Child care

Knowing the ins and outs of child care from your own children or from previous work experience will prepare you for working with special needs children. But it’s important to note that tactics for disciplining special needs students are different from other students. You must be able to understand and juggle many different student needs and school requirements. However, certain aspects are no different from your own home: consistency with rules is critical and all children must learn to be accountable for their actions.

(Video) How To Work With Special Needs Kids

5. Record keeping

Don’t associate this skill with sitting in an office all day, but maintaining diligent records is a critical ability in these careers. Children with disabilities must be tracked for progress and improvement in development. There are also state reports that must be filed on behalf of each child. If you are already confident about your record keeping abilities, don’t forget to draw attention to those skills when applying for teaching positions. You can highlight a time you assisted a friend in organizing small business records or how well you’ve kept track of family and life events, whether for fun or to help assess and plan for important things like financial needs.

6. Therapy

You don’t need to be a licensed therapist but experience in therapy could help you identify physical or mental handicaps in the children under your care. If caught soon enough by someone knowledgeable, early intervention can have an extremely positive impact. This also benefits siblings of handicapped or gifted students, who can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Think of yourself as one more link in a chain that supports the entire family of a child with special needs.

7. Autism

One in 68 kids in America is on the autism spectrum and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, according to the Center for Disease Control. This means no matter where you work, you will inevitably encounter a child affected by ASD sooner or later. Knowing how to interact with an autistic child will show employers you can confidently handle yourself when the time comes in the classroom.

8. Lesson planning

Lesson planning is always a difficult skill to master because a teacher never knows how a classroom of diverse students will respond to a lesson. Designing a plan that is inclusive of learning disorders becomes even more challenging. Lesson planning is just one of the many responsibilities the U.S. Department of Labor lists for special education teachers. Even if you do not have experience with lesson plans, you’re used to coming up with creative activity ideas for your kids. You can draw upon this experience to keep children engaged in the classroom.

(Video) Job Skills Training - Homeschooling special needs students

9. Mathematics

You’ve probably had to assist your child with a math assignment or two, so you know how difficult but important it is. The U.S. has been behind other countries in math and science for many years, despite the fact that the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) calls early childhood mathematics “a vital foundation” that all children need. Math skills are in high demand for all types of teachers, so it’s a desirable skill to highlight on your resume.

10. Office equipment

There are many technologies you may encounter as a preschool teacher, from email platforms to educational software, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Familiarizing yourself with these devices and programs means that a potential employer will not have to teach them to you. You will be able to hit the ground running at a new workplace.

Prepare yourself for success

Because of the massive demand, a field like special needs is a great choice for someone looking to leap right into a new career. When going back to school, don’t forget to draw on your existing abilities and experiences and apply them to your career working with special needs children. Highlighting these 10 skills can make you even more valuable in the eyes of a potential employer.

Hungry for more information? Visit the Rasmussen University School of Education’s special needs specialization page for details on what you need to do to begin your journey to an education career working with special needs children.

(Video) Local special needs students learn job skills


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What qualities do you need to work with people with disabilities? ›

The most important traits to cultivate to be a caregiver of disabled persons are:
  • Empathy. One of the most important qualities of a caregiver is an empathetic nature. ...
  • Patience. Patience is essential when caring for individuals who aren't fully self-sufficient. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Dependability. ...
  • Practical.
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What life skills do you need to teach special needs students? ›

Teaching Life Skills in Special Education
  • Communication.
  • Choice-Making.
  • Safety.
  • Self-Care.
  • Leisure and recreation.
  • Vocational skills.
  • Social Emotional.
Aug 8, 2022

What skills are needed to work with autistic children? ›

  • 10 Characteristics of Great Autism Support Teachers.
  • Empathy. Empathy is a must! ...
  • Patience. Patience is a virtue! ...
  • Knowledge. Staying knowledgeable on diagnoses and disorders that students have in a teacher's classroom is important. ...
  • Attentiveness. ...
  • Curiosity. ...
  • Adaptive. ...
  • Creative.

What qualities do you need to work with special needs kids? ›

Top Skills Needed to Work with Developmentally Disabled
  • Organization and Adaptability. These may seem like two separate—even opposite—personality traits. ...
  • Patience. Again, this is a skill that is needed for working with children of any ability. ...
  • Kindness and Empathy. ...
  • Optimism. ...
  • Communication Skills.
Dec 9, 2021

What are 5 skills you need as an early childhood educator? ›

5 Essential Skills for an Early Childhood Educator
  • Patience. Children go through different stages of learning. ...
  • Communication. Young children aren't always good at expressing themselves or effectively communicating—that's why ECE teachers need to be excellent communicators. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Organization. ...
  • Enthusiasm.

What skills do you need to work in a special needs school? ›

You'll need:
  • sensitivity and understanding.
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
  • to enjoy working with other people.
  • to be flexible and open to change.
  • excellent verbal communication skills.
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses.
  • the ability to understand people's reactions.

What are the 10 tips for working with people with intellectual disabilities? ›

10 Tips for Working With People With Intellectual Disabilities
  • Do not call them kids. ...
  • Use clear, simplified language and try speaking slower, not louder. ...
  • Set expectations. ...
  • Treat them as you would your peers. ...
  • Draw boundaries. ...
  • Ask them their thoughts and allow them to answer.

What is the most important quality for a disability support worker? ›

Empathy, patience, and understanding are critical attributes in working as a support disability worker. Every person you support will be unique, so it's important to understand how you might be able to help someone achieve their goals, whatever they are.

What is daily living skills in special education? ›

Definition. The term “daily living skills” refers to a wide range of personal self-care activities across home, school, work, and community settings. Most daily living skills, like food preparation and personal hygiene, need to be performed on a regular basis to maintain a reasonable level of health and safety.

What are functional skills special needs? ›

Functional skills in special education are the skills a child needs to develop and live independently, regardless of emotional, intellectual, or physical disabilities. They cater to the unique needs of the individual, and these skills focus on the more nonacademic, routine activities of everyday life.

What are life skills for special needs adults? ›

Money management and budgeting. Anger management. Building, developing and maintaining relationships. Knowledge of our surroundings; Countries, Provinces and levels of government.

What are 5 strategies used to work with a child with autism? ›

Our 5 Best Autism Teaching Strategies
  • Support Routines and Transitions. Most children with autism are sensitive to abrupt changes in routine and will learn best in routine situations. ...
  • Use Visual Cues. ...
  • Use Special Interests as a Gateway to Teaching Skills. ...
  • Incorporate Sensory Tools. ...
  • Support social skills practice.
Nov 5, 2019

What skills do you need to be able to communicate with autism? ›

These skills include using eye contact, gestures, body movements, imitation, and babbling and other vocalizations to help them communicate. Children who lack these skills may be evaluated and treated by a speech-language pathologist to prevent further developmental delays.

What skills do people with autism have? ›

Autistic people may display a range of strengths and abilities that can be directly related to their diagnosis, including:
  • Learning to read at a very early age (known as hyperlexia).
  • Memorising and learning information quickly.
  • Thinking and learning in a visual way.
  • Logical thinking ability.

What are 3 top qualities everyone who works with children must have to succeed? ›

  • Patience. Patience is listed first because it is the most important. ...
  • The Ability to Hide Frustration or Annoyance. Kids can pick up on even the slightest shift in your demeanor. ...
  • Keeping Calm in an Emergency. Kids freak out when adults freak out. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Enthusiasm.
Jan 30, 2014

What are the 3 most important roles of a special education teacher? ›

Special education teachers typically do the following: Assess students' skills and determine their educational needs. Adapt general lessons to meet students' needs. Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student.

What is one of the most important skills for early childhood professionals? ›

Be a good communicator

Teachers and educators need to be able to communicate with children in a way that is age-appropriate. It is also important to develop skills in communicating with families about their children's skills, abilities and achievements to provide the best learning experiences for their child.

Why are skills important in early childhood education? ›

Ans: Social skills development increases kids' academic progress, health, and overall well-being while effectively averting a number of issues such as alcohol and drug use, aggression, truancy, and bullying. Social and emotional abilities, Academic Excellence.

What are two skill and knowledge requirements when performing your job role in childcare? ›

Educators need to be competent and proficient in managing children's emotions, diffusing conflict, planning activities, and helping them develop social and physical skills. Additionally, they must ensure a safe, clean, and healthy environment for all children under their care.

What top 3 skills do you believe you need to be successful as a special education assistant? ›

The third most common is iep on 9.5% of resumes. Three common soft skills for a special education assistant are communication skills, interpersonal skills and patience.

What skills do you need to be successful as a special education assistant? ›

List Of Skills To Add To Your Special Education Teaching Assistant Resume
  • Autism.
  • IEP.
  • CPR.
  • Professional Development.
  • Classroom Management.
  • Applied Behavior Analysis.
  • Mathematics.
  • Behavior Management.
Dec 12, 2022

What skills should be taught to students with an intellectual disability? ›

Use Instructional Tools- Things like social skill building videos, social stories and social scripts, and role playing all help as part of the direct instruction. This way a student has an opportunity to watch others, learn the appropriate responses, and practice in a controlled environment.

What 4 things should you do when dealing with a disabled person? ›

General Etiquette Tips
  1. Practice the Golden Rule. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. ...
  2. Always Ask Before Giving Assistance. Just because a person has a disability, they don't necessarily need or want your assistance. ...
  3. Think Before You Speak. ...
  4. Avoid Showing Pity or Being Patronizing.

What to know when working with students with disabilities? ›

Successful Strategies for Teaching and Supporting Students with Disabilities
  • Lean on others. ...
  • Stay organized. ...
  • Don't reinvent the wheel. ...
  • Know that each student is unique. ...
  • Keep instructions simple. ...
  • Embrace advocacy. ...
  • Create opportunities for success. ...
  • Don't feel pressure to be perfect.

What are 2 key skills of a great support worker? ›

What makes a great support worker? The top five qualities to look for
  • They know when to step up and step back. Your support worker should know when to provide the support you've asked for, and when to let you do your own thing. ...
  • They know the value of communication. ...
  • Patience and a sense of humour. ...
  • Reliability. ...
  • Respect.

What are the main tasks and duties of a disability support worker? ›

Disability support worker
  • supporting individual participation in social and recreational activities such as going to the footy or the movies.
  • undertaking tasks outside the home such as shopping, visiting friends and family.
  • supporting participants to achieve their employment goals.
  • personal care.
Aug 19, 2021

What are the skills of a special needs teacher? ›

Excellent communication skills. Teach students with a variety of special needs. Research strategies and resources in SEN. Understand and connect with students on a personal level.

What are the 5 daily living skills? ›

The basic ADLs (BADL) or physical ADLs are those skills required to manage one's basic physical needs, including personal hygiene or grooming, dressing, toileting, transferring or ambulating, and eating.

What is skill training in special education? ›

This skill training focuses on the various skills to produce a product in the form of real objects that are beneficial to life. By learning the various skills expected, children with special needs can gain a perceptual experience, appreciative experience, and creative experience.

What are the 3 functional skills? ›

What are functional skills? Functional skills are the core English, mathematics and information and communication technology (ICT) skills people need to solve problems in their work and private lives. The study of these fundamental courses in real-life contexts can allow you to apply them to practical situations.

What are developmental skills? ›

Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye-bye” are called developmental milestones. Children reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak, behave, and move (for example, crawling and walking).

How many functional skills are there? ›

Functional Skills - 4748

Functional Skills qualifications are available across five levels (Entry 1 to Level 2), and are completed in a wide range of college, community and work-based settings.

What are social skills for special needs? ›

Waiting for their turn, sharing, following instructions, sharing instructions, reaching a compromise, and expressing empathy are examples of social skills that children may find especially difficult to manage. How to help children who have special needs develop social skills?

What are the six most important life skills? ›

decision-making, creative thinking, interpersonal relationship skills, self- awareness building skills, empathy, and coping with stress and emotions. Self-awareness, self-esteem and self-confidence are essential tools for understanding one's strengths and weaknesses.

What skills do you need to work with autistic children? ›

  • 10 Characteristics of Great Autism Support Teachers.
  • Empathy. Empathy is a must! ...
  • Patience. Patience is a virtue! ...
  • Knowledge. Staying knowledgeable on diagnoses and disorders that students have in a teacher's classroom is important. ...
  • Attentiveness. ...
  • Curiosity. ...
  • Adaptive. ...
  • Creative.

What skills do you teach a child with autism? ›

10 Life Skills to Teach Your Child with Autism
  • Skill # 1: Sensory Integration. ...
  • Skill # 2: Communication. ...
  • Skill # 3: Safety. ...
  • Skill # 4: Self-Esteem. ...
  • Skill # 5: Pursuing Interests. ...
  • Skill # 6: Self-Regulation. ...
  • Skill # 7: Independence. ...
  • Skill # 8: Social Relationships.

What are the most effective teaching methods for children with autism? ›

4 Teaching Strategies for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Strategy #1: Limiting Sensory Overload.
  • Strategy #2: Using Rewards and Incentives (Applied Behavior Analysis)
  • Strategy #3: Providing Appropriate Feedback for Students with ASD.
  • Strategy #4: Focusing on Autism Reading Comprehension Strategies.

What skills are needed to communicate with children? ›

Try these nine tips to practice your verbal and nonverbal communication skills:
  • Active listening. Listening actively helps children to feel heard and understood. ...
  • Reflective listening. ...
  • Speaking clearly. ...
  • Avoiding bribes. ...
  • Explaining feelings. ...
  • Using 'noticing' statements. ...
  • Having fun together. ...
  • Focusing on behaviour.

What skills do you need to work with autistic adults? ›

Good communication with people with autism is vital. This includes recognising behaviour triggers, using visual prompts and speaking in short, clear sentences. Structure can help people with autism make sense of their day. It is important to emphasise positives when working with people with autism.

What are functional communication skills? ›

Functional communication refers to the most basic of communication skills. This type of communication gets one's basic wants and needs known, such as “I want that”, “I am hurt”, or “I need to use the bathroom”.

What are cognitive skills for autism? ›

The cognitive strengths and weaknesses typically exhibited by people with ASD include difficulties predicting others' behavior based on their thoughts and feelings (so-called theory of mind) and problems regulating and controlling their behavior (termed executive function), combined with an aptitude for detecting parts ...

What is a skill example? ›

Technical skills: computer skills, programming languages, social media, and enterprise software. Problem-solving skills: creativity, critical thinking, and analytical skills. Customer-service skills: active listening, time management, and prioritization. Interpersonal skills: communication, teamwork, and empathy.

What are the six skills that are characteristic of a savant? ›

Common savant domains include music, art, calendar calculating, lightning calculating, and mechanical/visual spatial skills.

What skills and abilities should I include? ›

What are the best job skills on a resume?
  • Computer proficiency.
  • Leadership experience.
  • Communication skills.
  • Organizational know-how.
  • People skills.
  • Collaboration talent.
  • Problem-solving abilities.
Jul 9, 2022

What are some key skills and abilities? ›

Top Skills to List in Your Resume
  • – Problem Solving Skills. ...
  • – Critical Thinking Skills. ...
  • – Flexibility. ...
  • – Communication Skills. ...
  • – Teamwork. ...
  • – Organization Skills. ...
  • – Creativity. ...
  • – Emotional Intelligence.

What skills do you need to work in early learning and childcare? ›

As a child care worker, you require certain skills and abilities to help you engage with children and provide a safe environment for them. When interacting with children of different ages, you need to have basic soft skills like communication, planning and creativity, plus technical skills in first aid care.

What skills or abilities do I need to have? ›

10 essential skills you'll need for career success
  • Communication. Communication includes listening, writing and speaking. ...
  • Problem solving. Challenges will arise in every job you have. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Initiative. ...
  • Analytical, quantitative. ...
  • Professionalism, work ethic. ...
  • Leadership. ...
  • Detail oriented.
Apr 17, 2019

What are the 6 essential skills? ›

The Core skills
  • Critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Communication and collaboration.
  • Creativity and imagination.
  • Student leadership.
  • Citizenship.
  • Digital literacy.

What are the four most important skills? ›

Four Soft Skills Everyone Needs at Work
  • Emotional Intelligence. Boiling down a definition of emotional intelligence, or EQ, is even less straightforward than defining soft skills. ...
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. ...
  • Adaptability.

What are the top ten skills? ›

Let's take a look at some of the skills that will be in demand by employers in the next ten years.
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Emotional Intelligence. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Flexibility. ...
  • Leadership Skills. ...
  • Time Management. ...
  • Curiosity and Continuous Learning.
Aug 30, 2022

What are the seven basic skills? ›

The seven skills are Composure, Encouragement, Assertiveness, Choices, Empathy, Positive Intent and Consequences. The seven skills emerge from the foundation of the Seven Powers for Conscious Adults.

What are the 3 major skills? ›

There are three types of skills: functional, self-management and special knowledge. Functional skills are abilities or talents that are inherited at birth and developed through experience and learning. Examples are: making decisions, repairing machines or calculating taxes.

What are three important skills that childcare workers should have? ›

Important Qualities
  • Communication skills. Childcare workers need good speaking skills to provide direction or information effectively and good listening skills to understand parents' instructions.
  • Decision-making skills. ...
  • Interpersonal skills. ...
  • Patience. ...
  • Physical stamina.
Oct 4, 2022

What skills do you need to be a childcare assistant? ›

To become a Nursery Assistant, you will need:
  • Stamina and energy.
  • To be patient, tolerant and resilient.
  • Flexibility.
  • A sense of fun, and creativity and imagination to provide activities.
  • Communication skills.
  • To be caring, understanding and able to give encouragement.


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