I did a two year course in the Community College in Tralee to train as a Special Needs Assistant. The lectures were held two nights a week. There was both theory and practice involved. Being a Special Needs Assistant is a very challenging but rewarding career. The secret of being a good SNA is being able to bond with the students in your charge. You have to be there for them and they have to be aware of that. They have to learn to trust you.
The SNA has to be able to cope with irregular behaviour and this is where the right training is important. You have to realise each individual child is different and you have to understand what causes their behaviour. A method you use with one child may not be the right method with another child. The SNA has to be flexible in approach.
As far as working with the teaching staff is concerned, the SNA is a respected member of the team and is highly regarded. The salary is also of a high standard.
Leaving Cert students who wish to train as SNAs will have to have a level five standard, will have to be patient and caring people and will have to like working with children. Traditionally it was mostly girls who pursued the career but that is changing now and boys are taking up the option.
Being a Special Needs Assistant is a rewarding career and is a viable option for young people who feel the need to help children. See your career guidance teacher for further details.