Classroom Aides for Special Education Students

Parent Q&A

Aide for a 3 year old in preschool? Jul 6, 2018 (3 responses below)
Aide for our preschooler with sensory processing disorder? May 25, 2017 (3 responses below)
Behavioral Aide for Preschool Needed Sep 16, 2016 (1 responses below)
  • Aide for a 3 year old in preschool?

    (3 replies)


    My daughter attends The Good Earth preschool in Kensington and due to some sort of Sensory processing issue we are trying to diagnose, has had a very difficult time in her big transitions (to the point where it is distressing to both us and her teachers).  We are looking for an aide to spend one on one time with her in school part time three days a week and wonder if anyone has navigated this process before and can give guidance on where to find such a person?  Any advice helps.  Thanks so much!

    I think for a 3 year old, you could contact the Regional Center and/or get ABA through your health insurance.  I can also recommend the fabulous Kendra Frautnick

    to provide in-school services.

    Your situation sounds a lot like me ~3-4 years ago. I'd suggest starting with an Occupational Therapist, though you may already be on that path as you work to diagnose. An OT, can evaluate (including school observation), do one-on-one sessions to help you and your child develop tools and strategies, as well as provide wrap around care (at school, in the moment assistance and help her teachers understand and utilize tools to better support). Your insurance may have some in-network, though most in the Bay Area seem to be self-pay and then you can try to get reimbursed from your health insurance. Another option is a Neuropsych evaluation. It's not cheap and, again usually out-of-pocket, though you may be able to get reimbursed from your health insurance depending on the diagnosis. Your Pediatrician should be a good resource to help document the need and may be able to suggest some Neuropsychologists and/or OTs. It can help with insurance if it's deemed medically necessary. You can also do a search here on BPN for ones in your area.

    In our case, the understanding of our child's issues from the Neuropsych evaluation, on-going support from our OT, and most recently addition of medication for other non-sensory issues has made a world of difference. We've tried to be diligent about incorporating and reinforcing the tools across environments and proactively communicating with new teachers. We've gone from a preschool situation of repeated (dreaded) calls and requests to pick up early to an elementary school environment where the most recent progress report was that our child is a delight to have in class. 

    I applaud you for recognizing and working to address the issues early (vs. just hoping they'll grow out of it).

    One more idea: your child is now old enough to be evaluated by your local school district to possibly receive school district-provided OT and/or an aide in her private preschool.  Contact the special education department for WCCUSD.

  • Hi folks, my 3.5 year old son has been diagnosed with Sensory processing disorder and lately he has been using his hands a lot on other kids in school and even teachers, sometimes due to sensory seeking mode, sometimes for trying to show frustration and sometimes just because. The school has been keeping a log and try and talk to him each time an incident happens but within few minutes he goes right back at it. School is recommending we get someone like ABA aide/shadow for him, we are fine with that approach. Challenge is because my son is not diagnosed with any autism code and is not on spectrum, insurance is not covering the aide. I asked around and without insurance an ABA aide can cost upto 11 grand a month for 15 hours a week, which is definitely impossible for us.

    Has anyone been in this situation? Where have you found someone reasonable for correcting a behavioral issue onsite and is at $50 or under and hour?  I will take any advice here!!

    Thank you!!

    Is it possible for him to be evaluated for Autism? Many people consider SPD to be a symptom of Autism, rather than a stand-alone diagnosis. I personally did not want to accept that until my son's behavior really crossed some lines, and now we have the ASD diagnosis and I wish we had sought it out earlier. It's hard to go through this, but it sounds like a diagnosis will get you access to services that your child needs, so I would ask for evaluations from a developmental pediatrician. Hugs to you.

    If your son has a diagnosis, I imagine the OT or whoever assessed him came up with recommendations to support him. These should be discussed at the school and hopefully some modifications could be made. If there were no recommendations, go back to the person and request them. Talking about it to him doesn't necessarily help if he can't help it!! At this age, kids still need support to manage these kinds of things.In my experience, ABA therapists don't necessarily know how to address all kinds of sensory differences.It depends on their training.

    Hello. We saw your post and wanted to give a recommendation for Rebecah Freeling, who is a parent coach in Berkeley. Rebecah is exactly the person you want to work with to help resolve challenges with your child. We faced similar challenges with our daughter including willful disobedience, difficulty focusing, proprioception, picky appetite and other parenting issues. Rebecah helped us through many of the issues and we have developed much better techniques to work with our daughter and now have a better relationship with her as a result. Some of the issues began manifesting themselves at school as well, especially around circle and story time. Rebecah was able to do some training with the teachers, making it possible for us to solve the problems without hiring an aide. Rebecah's sense of creativity and understanding will probably help you work through many of the issues. We really appreciated Rebecah because her approach allowed for really teaching our daughter rather than just stopping/intervening in the behavior. It also cost a lot less than an aide would have! The highest recommendation for Rebecah!!

  • Behavioral Aide for Preschool Needed

    (1 reply)


    My son is struggling in preschool (sensory processing issues - sensory seeking) and I'm looking for an aide to help out 2-3 days a week for a few hours. We need help with physical aggression (hitting, biting, pushing, etc.) The preschool is in Berkeley. Any recommendations welcome, please!

    Thanks in advance. 

    There's always Craig's List, which is a bit hit or miss. You could also try ABA agencies. Although they typically serve kids with autism, many kids with ASD also have SPD or milder sensory issues. So an ABA agency (or advertising for an ABA tutor) would probably be well-equipped to serve your son as they frequently send aides into the classroom setting.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Hiring an aide for a preschooler

June 2008

We are looking into hiring an aide to assist our soon-to-be 4-year-old son with social interactions at his Montessori preschool. (We are in the process of having him evaluated for Asperger's.) Does anyone on BPN have experience hiring an aide for their child? How did you find your child's aide? What qualifications did the aide have? What were the aide's duties? How did the aide interact with the staff at the preschool? Did the aide have to submit to fingerprinting and background check before she could accompany your child to school? Did this type of intervention help your child? Thanks in advance for sharing your experiences. Concerned Mom

I've hired 3 different aides for my son (with autism) over the past 3 years, although he's always been at a Berkeley public school, and I imagine things are different at a private school. I found them all on Craigslist after placing an ad. Their qualifications varied depending on what I was asking for, and it's also going to depend on your son's needs.

However, being a private aide in a classroom can be a really tricky position. They work for you and for your child but they spend their day with teachers and staff and other kids whom they're not responsible for. It's a huge balancing act and it takes the right kind of personality to manage it. Their priorities are to do what's best for your kid, but that's not always what the school staff would prefer. On the other hand they have to work with these folks all day long and they want to keep a good relationship. This is where experience in a classroom setting helps tremendously, so you don't necessarily need to find somebody who has worked with kids on the spectrum, just somebody with classroom experience who is flexible and reliable. I ended up believing that ''qualifications'' are less important than personality. Experience is great, but I'd rather have somebody with less experience who is friendly and warm and reliable (of course) who is able to adapt while my son changes.

As for the specifics of what they do and how they interact, that's really going to depend on your child and on the staff at the school. I never needed to get any of my aides fingerprinted because BUSD considers them school ''volunteers,'' but your school will be able to tell you what they require.

You didn't say anything about who would be paying for this person, and that's a whole other thing to know about, but I won't get into that. Feel free to contact me directly if you'd like more information. Good luck! Jill


I want to choose my son's aide myself

Sept 2007


My son goes to a public elementary school in contra costa county and has a one-on-one aide due to speech delays. Can anyone give me input on what my rights are in regard to choosing his aide? I have asked for a different aide due to her incompadibility with my son but was told by the school principal that I did not have any ''rights'' in regard to choosing his aide. I plan to escalate this through the special education system & perhaps hire a facilitator. I would like to get all the input I can, so if anyone has any information on my rights I would appreciate it. A determined mom is your friend!!! It's a one-stop-shop for all your SPED advocacy articles!

There's an article in there that tells you to stop using the term ''aide'' and start using the term ''paraprofessional.'' Paraprofessional is a legal term defined by No Child Left Behind which specifies a certain amount of education and experience, there is no legal definition of the term ''aide.'' Make sure it says Paraprofessional and not aide in your IEP!

Get an advocate! I recommend Amy Kossow (amyadvocate[at] Of course, advocates aren't free, and you can always do it yourself if you're brave (not me, though!)

Start a papertrail of things the current aide has done wrong, putting particular emphasis on things that may violate your son's IEP. Send regular updates to the SPED director of your SD. Be annoying, it's the only way.

Of course, none of this is any guarantee that you'll be successful, a drastic alternative would be to pull your son out of school until the matter is solved to your satisfaction. The school district will be extra motivated to resolve the issue because any time a child is out of school, the district loses money. Good luck! Jill


How to find a Shadow Aide

Feb 2007


Our child is in private school and needs additional support from an aide. We don't know how long this will be necessary and don't know how to find someone who can help. Ideally, they would be trained in education, special ed or the like. It might be someone who is looking to pursue a career in special ed and is looking for some experience. Or it might be someone who already has this experience. We have talked to a couple of education therapists who might be able to supervise this person. Any ideas would be most welcome! Anonymous

I found mine on craigslist! Depending on the time of year you place your ad, you may even find yourself overwhelmed with resumes. Good luck! Jill

Hi, I have hired 2 shadow aides by placing adds on craig's list. If you go on craig's list and look under education jobs you will probably see other adds for shadows and can get ideas. Be specific about the hours and days you need as well as the qualifications you want the person to have. Both times I placed adds I got lots of responses including some very expereinced people. You are very smart to have some one (besides yourself) to supervise the aide - this helps tremendously. I'd be happy to help if you have specific questions. Laura

Once you've defined your child's needs a bit, you could try advertising for a shadow aide on Craigslist under the education category. Also, since the person you hire may be supervised by an educational therapist, you could contact the director of the educational therapy program at Holy Names University, who might be able to refer you to prospective employees. Good luck!


Qualifications for preschool aide?

Nov 2006


I am looking for information on Aides/Shadows for preschool-aged children with developmental delays. Specifically, I would like to know what type of education/ experience/expertise is required of aides that are offered through the public school systems. My son has some developmental delays and his developmental pediatrician feels that a classroom aide would help him be more successful in his current preschool setting. We are going to go through the public school system (Piedmont) but I also want to consider private options if there are any. We actually have a fantastic nanny who is well educated and has some, although limited, experience with kids with developmental delays and I'm wondering if it would make sense to hire her to do this for my son if she winds up being just as qualified as anyone else out there.... any words of wisdom would be much appreciated!

I have a son with Asperger Syndrome who is currently in first grade. I have hired 2 aides for him - one for preschool/ kindergarten and another for 1st grade. Both times I put an add on Craig's list and got a lot of responses including ones from experienced shadow aides. What type of qualifications they need depends on your child, the school, how confident you feel about supervising and who else is working with your child. When I hired the preschool aide we still had a part time ABA program going on. I hired some one with no experience and the ABA people trained her. She worked out great and even stayed with us for a year of Kindergarten. For first grade I was looking for an experienced aide and found one. The teacher and I supervise her together. I hope this helps Laura