Comments: 149 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

Samuel177111 karma

No offense to anyone at all, but do you feel that special ed students grow up to be able to adequately contribute the community? (Sorry for the seriousness, I just have always thought about this)

clynch11515 karma

Perfectly valid question. It really depends on the specific needs of the child. People with mild autism spectrum (mild Aspergers) can live pretty "typical" lives. If you could be more specific about the type, I'd be happy to answer.

Samuel17716 karma

That is a good point. However lets assume the child has a very aggressive case of autism; one that inhibits his ability to do daily tasks on his own. Do these children ever achieve a state of life in which they can contribute to society? Also, the amount of money and effort we put into the education and care of kids with such serious cases of autism is ridiculously high. Not trying to be harsh, but for lack of a better way of saying this, whats the "point" of it all?

clynch11515 karma

Well you are right, the chance that they live a "typical" life is very slim due their more severe case of autism. And yes, special education is very expensive in this country. Most likely they would be put in a life skills class and taught just that...how to microwave, make their bed etc. I know what you mean when you say what's the "point" and you don't mean to be harsh. It's a tough subject but I guess it comes to human rights. They have the right to free appropriate education just like "typical" children are. Life skills classes do amazing things for kids with severe needs. Lot's even get jobs. Yes it's lots of money but those people have the right to education that is appropriate for them. Again, it's a tough subject.

Samuel17712 karma

I appreciate your responses very much. I have just one more question, if you were a parent and while the child was still in the womb, it was determined that you child would have a high likeliness of autism or a similar mental disorder, would you choose to bring that child into the world or would you abort? (I feel terrible asking this but as I mentioned, this has always been a subject of interest)

clynch1156 karma

No it's a very interesting subject. Feel free to ask away. As a special educator who has been able to see so much good in this field and so much happiness from the kids I work with, yes I would.

However, I understand where people are coming from and it's such a hard situation. I wouldn't judge people who would abort. It's not easy raising a child with severe impairments. I guess when you become a parent ( I assume, I am 25 with no children) it can't be about how hard it's going to be for you. But there is a side that the quality of life for the child is so low it's almost inhumane. I keep contradicting myself, sorry!

Samuel17714 karma

Thank you so much for answering my questions. Your doing great work and you love your job. Keep doing what you do!

clynch1153 karma

Thanks and feel free to ask more!

nmerk913 karma

I have to give you props for answering all of Samuel1771's questions

clynch1152 karma


Mother_Of_Pearl9 karma

Are you happy with your job?

clynch11517 karma

As a person in my mid-twenties yes. Do I want to work in this area for the rest of my life no.

batkarma5 karma

Since experience has a big impact on the effectiveness of teachers, and I imagine many others in your position feel the same. What would have to change make you want to stay in the area?

clynch1157 karma

Really the general "safeness" of the area would have to change. I couldn't imagine in 5 or so years being pregnant or a young mother and knowing that I was putting myself in a dangerous position.

Fartless7 karma

Is the Korean side of Philly really far away from the bad neighborhoods?

clynch11510 karma

Not sure where the Korean side is?

RalesBlasband6 karma

69th and Rt. 3. Near the SEPTA terminal.

clynch1157 karma

Not a great area.

semi_colon4 karma

Is any place in Philadelphia a "great area"? Granted, all I know about Philly I've learned from homicide reports and It's Always Sunny.

Thanks for being a teacher, btw.

Meanest_Phlebotomist3 karma

The Far Northeast, Manayunk, Center City are all pretty safe. Fishtown doesn't suck.

clynch1153 karma


clynch1151 karma

There are some nice places, NE Philly isn't so bad. I used to live there. Center city is pretty nice. And thank you.

Mishmash347 karma

An old math teacher of mine told me a story about how his wife works in a similar condition to you and in they had to deal with a student who was called "bricks and knives kid" who they literally had to discard dozens of (surprisingly) bricks and knives from him. Whats the your favorite/worst kid that you had to deal with.

clynch1159 karma

Interesting about "bricks and knives kid"

Favorite kid: Little boy who, when hearing some people yelling outside, tried to protect me by telling me to get down as he got in front of me.

Worst: Kid who just ran from me constantly, we'd go for a walk, he'd run into the street. I was being observed and he slapped me across my face and threw a trash can at me. Kinda funny really.

Fizzay6 karma

That first kid sounds like a true bro.

clynch1152 karma

Haha he is definitely a good kid.

thatoneawkwardgirl7 karma


clynch11515 karma

I graduated college in 2010 and this was the only job offer if you want me to be honest. It's not easy to find a job in education anymore. I guess it's opened my eyes to low socio-economic families in this country. How hard it really is for them who are really trying to make a better life for their children. However there are some who blatantly don't care. I guess it's affected me in the ways that I vote and who I judge.

Gersh1005 karma

I go to Temple, so I'm in the area all the time. Do you find many children born into that area are quick to fall victim of the system? If so who is to blame, the parents, the city, society?

clynch1153 karma

Temple is a great school. I do think they do fall victim to the system and all three are to blame. Especially parents. THey teach their kids to do as little as possible because that's what they were taught. However, that is not all of them.

meggio5 karma

If you weren't working in special ed, would you want to be a classroom teacher? Primary or Intermediate? Did you have to do any special courses in university to obtain your position? Where I live you pretty much need a Masters or at least a post bacc in Special Ed in order to obtain a job in the field.

You mention you don't want to work in this area for the rest of your life, what else would you like to do? I'm curious because I work in Special Ed and am around your age, and feel the same way as well. Love the job, but looking down the rest of my life, not sure I have enough energy for it! Thanks for doing this AMA! It's always nice to hear other people's stories for a change :)

edit: spelling

clynch1154 karma

Yes, I actually have a another certification in Elementary (primary) Education. I would definitely consider that.

Are you from the UK? I actually am going to attend UCL next year for my Masters in Speech and Language Sciences. So I know how you feel. I really like working with kids with communication disorders. Do you have any other interests if you'd like a change?

meggio4 karma

Speech and Language is something that I'm interested as well. I've worked with several non verbal autistic students and absolutely relish the feeling I get every time we get a word out. It's truly amazing. Speech and language is something that definitely interests me, but unfortunately where I live in Canada there aren't a ton of jobs that I could use that schooling for.

If I were to change, I think I'd like to teach primary, particularly kindergarten. I'd never change fields, really love working in education, just hate all the bureaucracy and red tape. Best of luck to you with your schooling :)

edit: grammar. Seriously, I cannot write today.

clynch1152 karma

Thanks and you too. Again I do have a cert in Elementary Ed so feel free to ask me!

NikeSB64 karma


clynch1155 karma

Yes, the kids I work with are very young but there are definitely kids who are bullies. Even some of the kids I have are the bullies.

dubsdownd3 karma

fellow special educator here, stay strong and thanks for making a difference

clynch1153 karma

Thank you and right back at you!

OrcSoldat3 karma

Are you a guy or girl? Do you like ice cream?

clynch1151 karma

Girl and depends on the flavor.

OrcSoldat-4 karma

Do you have abs? Do any of the kids ever yell at you or are mean to you? If yes, tell a story.

clynch1154 karma

Everyone has abs don't they? All the time, just this Thursday a kid told me to "go home or they'll be a problem". That's nothing, I've gotten hit, kicked, bitten. Mostly because they have behavior issues, not so much their socio-econmic status.

OrcSoldat-2 karma

Yes, but are your abs visible? Tell the story of you getting hit and kicked. Also, as a teacher, do you like the kids even though they may dislike you?

clynch1156 karma

No visible abs. They become frustrated and kick me or hit me. Various situations lead up to this. Mostly when we are attempting a difficult task like writing or attending to a story. I like the kids I have, regardless if they like me. You kinda have to when you are a teacher or you'll end up drop-kicking them.

playdoepete-15 karma

Are you over weight.. Most female ed teachers are over weight.

clynch1158 karma

Yes I am but it doesn't really matter.

NigLightOn3 karma

Where's the best place to get a cheesesteak?

Also, I heard that the Pennsylvania governor slashed government funding for state universities. Has the funding for elementary and secondary education and support services such as the one you work for also been reduced? If so, how has that affected your ability to do your job?

clynch1156 karma

I don't like cheesesteaks. I've heard Steves and Tony Lukes are good. Best ask /r/philadelphia

Yes it absolutely has. There is literally no more money in education. We have had lots of cuts, no money for supplies, aren't getting our travel reimbursement for going to various sites, more kids on our caseloads which means less quality of service time to the kids. It's not a good time right now.

notlikethat13 karma

Do you feel more jaded since you started this job? What about this job surprised you the most?

clynch1156 karma

I actually definitely feel more jaded. Since I am commuting to various schools and homes I see a lot of terrible things: drug deals, gang violence etc. I feel like I've gotten way more skeptical and fearsome after this. The surprising thing to me after this job has been working with foreign people vs people who are born here. The foreign are much more caring, concerned, nicer, hospitable than people born here.

notlikethat13 karma

Out of curiosity, what countries are your foreign born students primarily from?

clynch1155 karma

Mali, Algeria, India, Nigeria. I don't think I am missing any.

StellaNeedleman7 karma

Are you skeptical of the placements of any of your foreign-born students? I ask because I worked for a non-profit in SW Philly and what I found was that many of the special ed kids suffered from poor command of English as well as a profound lack of schooling (in their respective countries). Essentially, they weren't slow but behind their peers for a multitude of reasons, none of which had to do with developmental delays.

clynch1157 karma

Oh absolutely, there have been lots of foreign kids we discharged because they simply learn English and don't need services. I feel the same way as you, a lot of parents don't speak English that well so in turn the kids don't. It always amazes me how fast kids pick up other languages though.

StellaNeedleman2 karma

Yeah, I figured you'd have that experience as well. You're quite right about how quickly children can pick up another language. I worked as a tutor and I would see children during intake with a basic command of English come back nearly fluent a few months later. Meanwhile their parents were still struggling with the basics!

Thanks for the work you do. Those kids really have some serious disadvantages. It's not easy work but it sure is important!

clynch1153 karma

Thanks and you as well. Tutoring is so important too!

Samuraikhx3 karma

I miss Wawa

clynch1153 karma

I'm sure it misses you too.

phillyeagles5402 karma

What do you think of some of the charter schools in Philly closing down? My sister works as a special ed. coordinator within the Philly district and her school is on the brink of shutting down which I think is awful.

clynch1153 karma

It is absolutely horrible. People are just hoping they don't lose their jobs. That's education for you these days. Best of luck to your sister. Those charter schools are amazing.

Newaccount132 karma

Please tell me there's a bar "paddy's Irish pub" in Philly

clynch1154 karma

i do think that the real life Mac and Dee own a bar in Philly somewhere.Can't remember what it's called.

clynch1152 karma

Haha I wish!

iaacp2 karma

What are the 'worst parts' of Philadelphia?

clynch115-1 karma

Southwest Philly. Most dangerous area in the city.

jlesnick2 karma

So, I'll just come out and ask: thoughts on the tard blog? I miss it :/ it was so fucking funny.

clynch1152 karma

Hm, tard blog? Was that a reddit thing? Not sure what that is but I have my guesses...

dresdenologist2 karma

I take it you work with peers that have been at this longer than you. What did they teach you, if anything, to help you best do the job?

clynch1153 karma

We actually are a pretty young staff. I do have a mentor teacher. The best advice ,besides general best practices, is to try to be as safe as possible. Be on the look out and never ever let your guard down.

MichiganWolverine2 karma

Do you keep in contact with your students once they graduate? I know that a huge problem right now is that special ed students don't receive the same attention once they leave the education system.

clynch1153 karma

Sadly, other than if a parents keeps in contact with me no we don't. That is definitely a problem, there isn't that much support for kids out of the system, otherwise extending services to 21 years of age. You have to qualify for it though.

nefertooty2 karma

I worked in Baltimore schools and the children there are clearly suffering from lead poisoning and its obvious their parents and grandparents are as well. In my opinion this is the plague of the city, cause of most of the crime and misfortune, and people don't seem to realizel it and blame it on the individuals when in reality they are do just products of their poisonous environments.

This is likely in Philly too...what are your thoughts on the matter?

clynch1150 karma

I'm not sure there are any reports of insidious gas in the schools and if there are I am ignorant to it. I think it could definitely be a possibility.

nefertooty1 karma

the lead is in the paint

clynch1151 karma

Sorry read it incorrectly. Regardless, I don't have information on that so I don't have an opinion.

timrclarke2 karma

Is it sunny there?

clynch1151 karma

Haha no, I wish.

rabidstoat2 karma

Did you get a sign-on bonus for working on the 'bad side' of town? A few years ago when a friend was looking, there were allegedly bonuses for working in crappy schools in the dangerous parts of Baltimore.

Are you in a union?

clynch1153 karma

No sign-on bonus or anything like that.

No union, I work for a company that is contracted by Early Intervention.

rabidstoat2 karma

Awww, bummer on no bonus.

My step-sister worked in some of the bad parts of NOLA a few years ago. She did it as part of AmeriCorps, so didn't get paid much.

clynch1152 karma

Yeah it's not a high paying job. Wish it was!

Tokyocheesesteak1 karma

What part of Philly do you work in?

clynch1151 karma

Southwest Philly. Cobbs Creek.

sickethunder1 karma

Favorite Tastykake?

clynch1152 karma


Chasen71 karma

Might be a little late but one time in middle school this special ed kid had a freak out a nd started throwing these huge art tables and metal pans and NOBODY could stop him. Do special ed kids often have this amount of strength?!

clynch1151 karma

It really depends on the kid. Just like anyone else. Sometimes kids with emotional support issues have a higher level of testosterone which can lead to more aggression and increase in strength but it really is person specific.

medicalalphabetical1 karma


clynch1153 karma

I wish but the people there aren't as terrible as the gang.

firemanbob961 karma

Do you work in a school or do you do primarily home visits?

clynch1151 karma

I do both, mostly schools though.

firemanbob961 karma

Do you ever work at the Widener school? I know they have an entirely special education population, are there other schools besides it that have entirely special education populations or is it the only one?

clynch1151 karma

No, I've never heard of it. Is it Chester County?

Yes there a load of different schools in the city and the surrounding area.

firemanbob961 karma

No it is run by the School District of Philadelphia, on North Broad St near Albert Eisenstein Medical Center. I am surprised you have never heard of it. Link to school website: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/schools/w/widener

clynch1151 karma

Hm, very weird indeed. I don't ever work in North Philly so maybe that's why.

Slightlykrazy1 karma


clynch1151 karma

Actually never have heard of either one. I know Nicetown area, I think it's North Philly.

Orrracle1 karma

Do you feel the people that you help have no chance at a desirable future?

clynch1153 karma

No, the kids I have are more on the mild side so they have a better chance at a "typical" existence. I have taught a Life Skills class before with kids who are severely impaired. They are taught skills that could be useful at a service job. It really depends on the kid though. It's hard to think that the kids I worked with have no future so you kind of focus on today and try to help them with their small goals, like making their bed or something like that, you know?

nebelhund1 karma

Late to the party but.....do you still see yourself doing this job in 5 years? Would you have chosen a different path in school if you could do it over?

My wife worked with special ed kids in public schools for about six months. She said it was very hard to do. I have nothing but respect for anybody doing your job.

clynch1153 karma

I don't, I actually am planning on getting my Masters in Speech and Language Therapy. I'd like to work at a hospital. However, if I could choose a different path in school...I am torn about the question. I like my job and I think it's given me lots of experience but education isn't the greatest field to get into and I may have chose another path that is better paying. You have stumped me! :)

Thank you, I truly appreciate that! Best of luck to your wife.

DJ_Thundercock1 karma

Where are you originally from?

clynch1151 karma

I lived in the NE for a while, then moved to the suburbs. Now I live in center city.

Khaz191 karma

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

clynch1159 karma

I don't believe in God or heaven but if I had to chose probably "Bitches b crazy" would be pretty funny.

gsxr1 karma

How many parents are actively involved in the kids life and send them to school to learn as opposed to using school as a babysitter?

clynch1151 karma

There are three types. Parents who are over involved. About 1% of my caseload. Parents that I have never even spoke despite calling numerous times makes up about 30%. The rest of the 69% is made up of parents who are somewhat involved, for instance will call me back and try some suggestions I give them.

Poncheezled1 karma

I live in Philadelphia and I gotta say it's a pretty shitty city. Worst city in pennsylvania to say the least.

clynch1151 karma

Yeah, it is. There are some nice parts though. Most of the people are pretty friendly.

decaalv1 karma

+How do you manage to execute your planning if poor kids sometimes can't even make it to school because parents can't afford transportation? +Do people give you "the look" when one of your students go into crisis-tantrum on the street? how do you deal with that?

clynch1151 karma

We unfortunately have to discharge them from services if they are not showing up to school. It's sad but we can't chase them around the city. They move around a lot. I don't really ever notice a look if we are taking a walk, frankly I don't care. I am more worried about no one running into the street that I barely notice people looking.

FatassHunter1 karma


clynch1151 karma

Sorry for some reason I can't find the context to this question. I am not good at reddit.

FatassHunter1 karma

Why do you work in the Ghetto as a special ed teacher?

clynch1151 karma

really was the only job offered when I got out of college.

kxm12341 karma

I'm in the western Philadelphia suburbs here. I commend you for your work.

My question has to do with charters. I heard about several cases in Philadelphia of special needs students being strongly encouraged to leave or simply kicked out of charters for breaking "rules" like not sitting still, running around at inappropriate times or parents not fulfilling their "responsibilities". The implication is that many charters are trying to keep their test scores high by purging themselves of students with disabilities. Is this something you have seen?

clynch1151 karma

Thank you so much. I appreciate that.

I really don't work in Charter schools too much so I don't want to comment and be completely wrong. I know the charter schools, much like parochial or private, don't have as much resources for kids with mild to severe special needs. I do think that is changing in the charter schools. I'm not sure about kids "being kicked out" although it's perfectly plausible. Sorry I couldn't answer completely!

iPaisan1 karma

hey there! native philadelphian here, any specific school you work at most? Have you done any work at Don Guanella?

clynch1153 karma

I can't say the specific schools. A lot are in Southwest Philly.

drunkerxx1 karma

I am studying to be a teacher, do you find or did you find that it is a really emotionally draining job? I find I get so emotional I struggle to cope. These kids are so special, its hard not to love them and become attached.

clynch1151 karma

It definitely can be but also rewarding. You can't become too emotional, especially if you are working with special ed or an urban population because the chances are they will say something or do something hurtful. Definitely know that it will be tough in the beginning. My professors during college said that a million times and I am glad they did because I wanted to quit a month in! It definitely gets easier and your confidence goes up after some time. Best of luck, if you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

drunkerxx1 karma

I just find it so hard, like a know a guy with down syndrome, and another with autism. I feel so bad when they ask me questions about my life, friends, jobs etc because they haven't experienced anything like my life. The autistic one for example, cried to me once for hours because he had no friends to invite to his birthday party. How do you deal with that on a daily basis? You must be so strong!

clynch1152 karma

Those situations are really heart-breaking and never easy to deal with. Making sure they are cared about is really important. Also there are lots of adults with special needs programs to help people in similar situations socialize. Sadly, the ones who suffer the most are the ones with mild ASD. They know they are different and know they are missing out on meaningful relationship. I'm not sure there is going to be a viable solution save for the people around them making sure they know they are loved.

drunkerxx1 karma

Do you find it hard working with parents? Have you ever come across someone who sees their child as a burden?

clynch1152 karma

Yes it can. There has to be a sort of carry over especially with kids with behavioral issues. A lot don't bother doing it and just give in. My number advice I give to parents is "Say what you mean and mean what you say" If you say no toys until homework is done then mean it.

Some parents definitely view them as a burden. I am somewhat sympathetic, it is no easy feat however you have to do what you have to do.

drunkerxx1 karma

You are a very special person, best of luck :)

clynch1152 karma

Thank you very much! You too!

playdoepete0 karma

My first boob I saw in real life was my ED teacher.. I was being put into "Closet".. a carpeted room with a BIG bolt on it.. We when there when we were very aggrisive..

Well she was putting me in the room and my shirt tore open.. So I thought fuck it lets tear her shirt...

I ripped her shirt open and turned out she was not wearing a bra..

but she was like 50...

clynch1151 karma

Sounds like you were put in the chokie. Interesting story though.

ScottHastie0 karma

I'm going to be the director at a summer camp in a bad area. We deal with similar issues. I'm hoping you can give me some advice for both myself and the counsellors who will be spending the majority of their summer with kids with autism, ODD, ADHD (to name a few)?

clynch1153 karma

Kids with those disabilities can have some serious behavioral issues that will be difficult to handle. Especially kids with ODD. Really you have to be aware that something that works on one kid won't work on the another. It will almost be like a case to case basis.

I would recommend keeping a notepad available to take as many notes as possible. Use the ABC method. A-antecedant, what happened right before the behavior occurred, what is the environment like, who is around them, what are they doing. B-behavior, what is the actual behavior they are exhibiting. C-consequence, what happened right after the behavior, good or bad, what kind of attention do they get, are they kicked out. Writing those things down can help determine if there is a pattern to the behavior and hopefully you can come up with a solution.

Document, document, document. Can't stress that enough, if something serious happens you need to have documentation to back up what you are saying.

When trying to redirect kids into something more positive, make sure you use very direct language. "First you do x then we can move on to y". A lot of kids with those diagnosis have poor receptive language skills or auditory processing issues which makes them so frustrated. Make sure you are very clear so they can comprehend what you are saying to them quickly to avoid a problem behavior.

Just know the kids don't mean to lash out at you. A lot are impulsive and can't help their behavior. I know it's hard but try to be as nice as you can but still firm. My kids do love me and think I am fun but when I give a look or use a certain voice they know I mean business.

I hope this helped! Let me know if I can help at all, even with specific kids!

ScottHastie2 karma

This is amazing. Thank you so much, and good luck at your school.

clynch1151 karma

No problem, hope it helped!

PaleReiter0 karma

You should move to Bel-Air

clynch1151 karma

Sadly, no rich Uncle.

in_valid-2 karma

All AMAs require proof. Please read the side bar to the right.

clynch1155 karma

Okay, I'll email mods, thanks!

yessyess-3 karma

How do you potato?

clynch1152 karma

Hate them.

goallracesceptjewdom-6 karma

So.........Ghetto tards?

Good job.

clynch1152 karma


GiantsRTheBest2-8 karma

I really don't wanna sound like an inconsiderate jerk but I know It's going to sound like that but won't it be cheaper to kill the mentally disabled (only the ones that cannot live without constant human attention). Why can't we do like the Spartans and just pick the mentally and physically fit so those genes don't get passed down. Again I would like to bring up that I know it is hard to kill another human being wether disabled or not but if you look at it on paper it sounds reasonable.

clynch1153 karma

I understand what you are saying but they are humans and have rights as well. Just because they are severely impaired doesn't mean they can't bring joy into their parents' lives by making small steps towards their goals. I know what you are saying but I am sure if you would ever have a child with severe needs you would change your mind.