The use of paraprofessionals is an effective model in which a trained adult paraprofessional is paired with a child with special needs while they are learning to adapt to a regular education setting. The ultimate goal is for the paraprofessional to support a child to become successful and independent in the least restrictive school and community settings. The use of paraprofessionals in the classroom allows the child to function in a mainstream school setting more successfully by supporting the academic/ behavioral goals designed by the Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) team. They collect data on target problem behaviors, implement behavior plans, teach appropriate alternatives, and collaborate with the teacher to help the child better manage their behavior. This requires the paraprofessional to help a child adjust to a classroom environment (e.g. academics, peer interactions, and behavioral demands). This individualized support also helps ensure that the child’s behavior does not diminish the educational opportunity of other students as well. ASN takes an interdisciplinary approach to our programs which include collaboration with other services such as in-home ABA, speech therapy and occupational therapy.
The ultimate goal of the paraprofessional is to gradually transfer instructional control to the classroom teacher under group learning conditions and eventually be faded out of that setting; it is not the goal for the paraprofessional to replace the teacher nor for the child to become dependent upon that paraprofessional.
There are 3 basic types of paraprofessional support depending on the placement of the child:
1. Special education placement: The paraprofessional supports the child to increase independence in academic work, classroom tasks communication skills, and social skills while focusing on the decrease of inappropriate behaviors in a special education classroom. We also try to incorporate the goals from other therapies into the daily classroom demands, when it is appropriate.
2. Combination of special education placement and mainstreaming program: Similar to the description focus above, the child is supported to increase independence while decreasing inappropriate behaviors in the special education classroom. Additionally, this level of support includes a mainstreaming component where the child is scheduled to visit a regular education classroom to benefit from interacting with other mainstreamed peers and normalized academic tasks. Ideally, the child’s success is highlighted by scheduling to mainstream during a subject that is his or her strength. During this visit, the paraprofessional discreetly acts like a teacher’s assistant to facilitate the child to model the behaviors of typical peers, interact in social interactions and complete tasks consistent with the standards in the classroom.
3. Full inclusion placement: The child is placed in a regular education classroom for the entire duration of the school day. The paraprofessional discreetly facilitates the child’s complete participation in a regular education class and supports blending-in with his or her peers. As mentioned in above, the paraprofessional will act like a teacher’s assistant to facilitate positive peer interactions, and independent academic work, classroom tasks and appropriate social skills. Lastly, the goals established in other therapies are incorporated into the daily classroom work.
In summary, paraprofessional support is used for enhancing the socialization, community and educational opportunities of the special needs child. It also provides additional support for the classroom teacher as the child is gradually incorporated into the classroom milieu. Lastly, it can help increase the other children in the classroom’s sensitivity and acceptance of the special needs student.
For more information regarding our shadow aide services, please email or call us toll free at (800) 306-8602. We are currently able to provide services in English, Spanish, French, German, Korean, Vietnamese and Armenian.