Teacher’s Day – Being An Additional Needs Teacher AND Parent

Mark Arnold by Mark Arnold Additional Needs

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark heads up Urban Saints pioneering additional needs ministry programme and is co-founder of the ‘Additional Needs Alliance’, a learning and supp...

In particular, for those of us whose children have additional needs or disabilities, the care and support that our children receive at school is hugely appreciated and makes a world of difference to us and our children.

We see the team that work with our child, we get to know a little about them and their lives; the pressures they are under, the challenges they face.

There aren’t many school teaching staff who can go home at the end of the day and switch off completely.

My wife, Clare, works as a Teaching Assistant at a local primary school.  She supports a couple of children who have some additional needs, ensuring that they are well supported and cared for, that they are able to learn, and that they get the most out of their time at school.

She then returns home to care for our own additional needs child who is Autistic, has Learning Disability, and has Epilepsy.

Like many teaching staff in similar positions, Clare’s roles at school and at home overlap; complementing each other but complicating each other too!

On the plus side, Clare brings huge experience of caring for a child with complex and developing additional needs at home into the school environment, where that experience can be a huge help to the rest of the teaching team as well as the children she supports and their families.

Some of what Clare learns and the experience that she gains at school can be helpful at home too!

One the negative side, caring for children with additional needs at school, as well as at home, means that there is no break, no respite from high intensity care.

No opportunity to unwind after a stressful, sometime really challenging day at school.

24/7 caring can be and is sometimes draining, but Clare keeps going and does her very best both for the children at school and our own additional needs child at home, while also not forgetting our other child.

When there has been a school holiday, or perhaps even a long weekend like the one just gone, the staff room will be full of stories of staff who have been away for exotic trips somewhere, or have enjoyed a spa weekend.

Clare has no stories like that… her stories are of continuing to care for and clean up after our disabled child; sometimes returning to school exhausted after a school holiday rather than refreshed.

Why does she do it?

Because she knows from our own experience how valuable the support given at school to children with additional needs or disabilities, and their families, can be.

We’ve benefitted greatly from the care and support given to our own son over the years.

Clare can give a little back, and so does so to help those families, like ours, that need it most.

So, this Teacher’s Day (and please, let’s extend that to ALL teaching staff and volunteers), let’s celebrate the many caring individuals who do so much to support and nurture our children.

Let’s show them the support, respect, and appreciation that they deserve.

And if one day the member of the school teaching staff that we’re seeing or talking to looks a little frazzled, think about what, or who, they might have left at home to come and care for our children; you might just be talking to someone like Clare.

Happy Teacher’s (and teaching staff and volunteers) Day!


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