Wednesday, May 24, 2017

That Special Needs Touch

Posted by: Bob Marcinuk

J.J. Joyce is just one of those people that you just have no choice but to like. She comes across as a bit shy and unassuming at first glance but a brief conversation will quickly set you straight.  She’s a woman of great diversity of interests and just so happens to be good at them all! In respect of her modesty, we won’t even mention her world class salsa dancing competitions and all that comes with it.  But, we will embarrass JJ a bit by sharing her exceptional skills as a childcare professional here with us at Nannies As Needed.

JJ has a Masters of Education degree from Southern CT State University and has been engaging and caring for children for over twenty years. Her skills, kindness and compassion are quite transparent and most impressive, particularly to new parents.  When asked about this, JJ simply shares that “ My ability lies in engaging children of all ages to explore their world and to learn through responsible play.  I use whatever materials are at hand to create opportunities for children to develop their sense of discovery and unique thought process”.  

 When nudged to go on, JJ said that “I enjoy using my extensive knowledge of Child Development to help each and every child build their self-confidence and encourage their curiosity.  I understand the need to get down on the floor to play and engage them in fun and educational activities”.  It’s apparent to us that because multi-tasking is so natural to her, it’s relatively easy for JJ to push the edges of her creativity yet maintain a safe environment.

Where JJ truly amasses rave reviews is from those families with special needs children…not one but all.   So naturally, it begged us to ask her, just what does it take to be a good special need sitter?   Here is JJ’s response:

JJ’s views on being a good special needs sitter

“What does it takes to be a “good” special needs sitter? My first reaction is why settle for “good”??

First and foremost, be prepared! That will give you the confidence to enjoy the experience of caring for any special needs child.

Do your homework and learn as much as you can about the child and the disability or challenges she faces. A meet-and-greet is highly recommended. This is the best way to let her get familiar with you and gives you the opportunity to watch her reaction to you. Don't be alarmed if it's initially a negative reaction! The other, and equally important, advantage of a meet-and-greet is that it allows you to observe how the parents interact with her. Imitating those interactions are your best tool for entering the child's comfort zone.

Nannies always ask questions!

We routinely ask about allergies, medications, ICE contacts, favorite foods, toys or blankets for soothing, and, of course, any behavioral concerns and how do the parents typically handle them.

There are only a few extra questions to ask:

What is the best way to communicate with her? What will she do in return to communicate her needs?

Are there physical limitations or safety concerns?

Then go ahead and have some fun together! Stick to the child's routine, modify your words to fit her language skills, follow her lead in the activities you share, stay calm if she becomes upset or flustered, let her feel safe and secure in your care.

Now, honestly, isn't that pretty much how you'd approach any child in your care?”

JJ’s insights are pretty well grounded and are readily adaptable to most special needs situations. Perhaps confidence comes by simply being willing to try and in taking satisfaction from all interactions as positive experiences.  It’s amazing what a difference a little kindness, sensitivity and understanding can make with all children and with JJ, it just comes naturally.        

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