People who want to work with children with special needs can find careers in special education; other possible jobs include early intervention specialist, educational audiologist and occupational therapist. Several areas of specialization, such as autism spectrum disorders, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and severe sensory and physical disabilities, exist in each of these fields. Educational diagnostics, speech-language pathology, school social work and interpreting for the hearing impaired are other related career opportunities.
Early intervention specialists usually become involved with children in pre-school or their early elementary years to help them address less severe concerns often related to concentration, verbalization and relationships with others. Special education teachers create and adapt materials and teaching methods to the unique needs of each student and also consult with other teachers regarding learning disabilities, behavioral interventions and other classroom interventions. Both these careers require accredited, specialized training at the bachelor's degree level at minimum and usually require some type of certification and state licensing.
School social work is another career path, usually requiring a master's degree, for those interested in working with children with special challenges. Typically, the role of the social worker is to ensure that a school or program can appropriately meet the child's particular needs and to help connect the child and her parents with services as necessary. There are also opportunities for the paraprofessional, as a teacher's aide or instructional assistant, to work with children with special needs. Under the supervision of a teacher, paraprofessionals often work with small groups or individual children. While some states require certification, on-the-job training is the most frequent path for work in a paraprofessional role with children with special needs.