Disability Support Workers – A guide

Disability support workers can gain employment in number of different organisations and industries where there is a need for the care and support of a person with a disability. This can include:
– Special needs centres
– Schools
– Residential aged care facilities
– Community care and day care
– Youth organisations
– Justice, police and prison system

In this video we discuss working with children with disabilities. Education Assistants or EAs work in schools such as kindergartens, primary schools, high schools and special needs centres. They are usually working one on one or in small groups in a classroom.

Education assistants often work with children with disabilities including but not limited to:
– Autism Spectrum Disorder
– Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
– Dyslexia
– Processing disorders
– Developmental delay disorders
– Foetal Alcohol Syndrome
– Oppositional Defiance Disorder
– Cerebral palsy
– Mental health
– Fragile X
– Downs Syndrome

Education Assistants work under the guidance and instruction of teachers. They can work with a single student for most of the day or float in a class or a number of classes helping many different students.

Education Assistants or EAs for short can also be called integration aides, teacher aides, support workers, teacher assistants, Aboriginal and Indigenous Education Officers or AIEOs, Home Economic Assistants, or school support officers.

Some of the main tasks of an EA includes:
– Helping individual students with activities and learning
– Helping small groups of students with activities and learning
– Helping students with core skills such as reading, writing and numeracy
– Helping students who have learning difficulties, a disability or a disorder
– Helping the teacher with behaviour management, ensuring that students are on task
– Helping the teacher with activities such as cleaning and preparing resources
– Ensuring that students are safe at all times

Education Assistants are most often employed to work with students who need additional support in learning or due to a disability or behavioural issues.

It is particularly easy to find casual and part time work as an education assistant by putting your name down at all schools in your local area. This often leads to more permanent employment. Many education assistants work part time.

When looking for work, don’t forget special needs schools which are schools within the main school that even have their own Principal, teachers and administration staff.

Over 95% of people who enrol in a course to become an education assistant are female and are often mothers who are looking for family friendly work hours.

Education Assistants undertake many community service work tasks including but not limited to:
– Working with parents and guardians on a daily basis
– Assisting with case management (IEPs and IBPs)
– Organising community events such as excursions and fates
– Assisting vulnerable groups of people such as low-socio economic
– Ensuring abuse and neglect is reported to supervisors
– Obtaining funding such as grants from government departments or local businesses
– Organising and assisting with events such as art displays
– Working with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
– Assisting with a range of disabilities and disorders
– Researching and informing clients of support services and networks
– Liaising with community groups
– Liaising with specialist case workers such as psychologists and teachers
– Managing behaviour and learning
– Planning activities and creating resources

Depending on the course and level, education assistants learn the following:
– Safety including duty of care laws
– Education policy and regulations
– Supporting students literacy and numeracy learning
– Instructional techniques (how to help students learn)
– Techniques for working with a diverse range of people
– Behaviour management techniques
– Developmental domains such as cognitive, language and social development
– Basics of and techniques for working with specific disabilities and disorders
– Creating activities and basic planning
– Working with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and Individual Behaviour Plans (IBPs)
– Early Years Learning Framework implementation

Working in the education sector is challenging, rewarding and is a never ending learning curve. Rarely will you be bored working as an education assistant as each day presents a new challenge.
If you would like more information please speak to one of our student advisors or you can enrol using our online enrolment form at http://www.ftta.com.au