Role of a Counselor in an Academic Setup:
Support for Practical Issues:
A special needs student usually faces many practical issues while going to school or college. These could be as simple as finding it difficult to use the school toilets, or not being able to write their assignments because of hand function difficulties. A lot of teachers are sensitive to these issues, and may provide solutions in the classroom itself. However, some teachers may not understand the student’s difficulties, or may not know how to help. In some cases, the adaptations or modifications required may require an investment by the school. In these situations, the counselor can talk to the student about the problems and find solutions that will work for the student, as well as the school and the teachers. In some cases, the counselor can talk to the parents and find ideas that work for them at home.
Support for Academic Issues:
Students may struggle with some academic issues related to their special needs. Students may have a different learning style from what is usually used in the classroom, they may need more time for assignments, or may not be able to see the board. All these issues will reflect on the test scores. Thus, the counselor must regularly talk to the student about academics, test scores, and any difficulties they are facing related to their studies. It might also be useful to have a chat with teachers and find out their perspective of how things are going in the classroom.
Support for Emotional Issues:
School or college can be stressful and frustrating for any student, and especially for a student with special needs. A counselor often needs to provide emotional support to the student with special needs. This may include listening to the student, suggesting stress management techniques and looking at their daily schedules to see if they are having a balanced life. A positive outlook is essential for a student with special needs to be able to deal with the challenges of school and college.
Support for Social Issues:
Making friends, dating, and dealing with other students can all be difficult for students with special needs. In some schools or college, students with special needs may be teased, bullied or just ignored. All these situations can be difficult to handle. The counselor can help by helping them to interpret their situations correctly and suggest ideas that will help them make friends and build relationships. In cases of teasing, bullying or negative attitudes towards the special needs student, the counselor can work with the teacher to help the other students be more aware of the challenges that special needs students face every day, and also help them appreciate the good qualities in them. Getting the other students involved in supporting and standing up for students with special needs can help them grow to become kind and aware citizens.