Post People: Former Barking and Dagenham College student helps disabled children thrive
PUBLISHED: 13:00 11 December 2016
Specialist teaching assistant Simon Owusu-Ansah, 21, tells Sebastian Murphy-Bates how he fulfilled his lifelong dream of helping disabled pupils learn
“I’ve always wanted to work with children because I love to see them grow and thrive.
“My upbringing was tough because I lost my mum to leukaemia when I was 12, leaving me without that role model in my life. Since then all I’ve wanted to do is give back to children in that situation and do as much as I can to help them.
“After completing my child care diploma at Barking and Dagenham College in January, I started temping at Ickburgh School in Hackney as a teaching assistant. After working with children with profound learning difficulties for a week they offered me a permanent job which was great because I’m passionate about working with children.
“I don’t think there are enough role models for children in society and I hope to help change that.
“Day to day I work with autistic children, non-verbal children and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It can be quite challenging because sometimes they can bite or pinch but you just have to be patient and understand that it’s not their fault.
“Working in mainstream schools is probably less stressful but it’s great to see the smiles on our pupils’ faces. The key thing when working with children who have special needs is to remain calm and keep on top of your training.
“We use a lot of symbols and cards for children who can’t speak and we also do sign language and use football to engage them.
“Teaching them to read and write has been quite difficult for me because I’m dyslexic, but this job’s taught me that there’s always comebody to help you get by no matter your abilities. I always make sure I read things through before I present them to my pupils and there’s always a colleague on-hand to proof-read the things I write.
“We’re lucky enough to be in a country where we have help. There’s nothing to stop people like me achieving what we want.”