Jobs Working with Children with Disabilities

Children, especially those with disabilities, have special needs, and there are several different careers that specialize in meeting those needs. Learn about a few of the jobs that work with children with disabilities.

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Career Options for Working with Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities often need additional help and services as they go through life. There are many jobs in a variety of fields that specialize in working with disabled children to provide them with this needed extra care and attention. Below is a table that highlights a few of the possible career options that work with children with various disabilities.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Special Education Teachers $57,910 6%
Recreational Therapists $46,410 12%
Speech-Language Pathologists $74,680 21%
Child, Family and School Social Workers $43,250 6%
Physical Therapists $85,400 34%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Information for Jobs Working with Children with Disabilities

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with children that may have physical, emotional, mental or learning disabilities in a school setting. They help these children learn the material their peers are learning, but may need to present it in a different way and adapt lesson plans, or offer extra help. Their goal is to help the children they work with successfully move on to the next grade level. They may work closely with other teachers and administrators to provide their students with the best education possible, as well as keep parents informed about the student's progress. Public schools require special education teachers to have a bachelor's degree and license or certification, while private schools require the same degree, but not necessarily a license or certification.

Recreational Therapists

Recreational therapists use a variety of recreational activities to promote patients' physical, emotional and social well-being. Their patients are typically injured, ill or disabled, and some recreational therapists may specialize in working with children and/or children with disabilities. This allows children in similar situations to interact with each other and have fun doing an activity, which may include sports, aquatics, music, drama, arts and crafts and more. These activities can also help children with disabilities socialize and de-stress. Recreational therapists organize and oversee these activities to ensure the safety of all participants. These professionals need a bachelor's degree and certification from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).

Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists work with their patients to help them improve their communication and/or ability to swallow, and they may choose to specialize in treating children with various disabilities. They could work with children that have autism, hearing loss, developmental delays, cleft palates and other disabilities to assess, diagnose and treat problems with their speech and/or swallowing. They develop a unique treatment plan for each child, and use exercises to help them strengthen their muscles and make the correct sounds needed for speech. Speech-language pathologists must meet their state's requirements, which usually include a master's degree and license.

Child, Family and School Social Workers

Child, family and school social workers fight to protect the rights and well-being of children, including the disabled. They may remove these children from abusive or neglectful situations, help families find housing and food resources to care for children and even be a part of the adoption and/or fostering process. For families with a disabled child they may help them find additional resources, such as qualified childcare, educational assistance, support groups and more. These social workers' primary responsibility is to protect and help these children and their families cope with difficult circumstances. Child, family and school social workers only need a bachelor's degree.

Physical Therapists

In general, physical therapists (PTs) work with injured or ill patients, and use exercises, stretches, hands-on therapies and more to improve their movement and/or relieve pain. PTs that specialize in working with disabled children may treat children that have autism, Downs Syndrome, sensory issues, cerebral palsy and more. They may also work with children who become disabled in some way after an accident or illness. PTs evaluate their patients and create an individualized treatment plan. As goals are met, treatment plans are adjusted. These professionals must have a state license and a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.

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