Alejandra Rodríguez: "The family is a basic pillar in psychopedagogy".
We interviewed psychopedagogist Alejandra Rodríguez, an expert in special needs.
Our passage through the educational system is, in many ways, one of the most influential elements in what will be our room for maneuver when deciding what we want to be in adulthood. That is why it is essential to intervene as soon as possible in those children with special needs who may be at risk of school failure or delayed maturational development.
To learn more about this area of work, we interviewed the psychopedagogue Alejandra Rodríguez García, a professional based in Jaén, Spain, with many years of experience and with many years of experience supporting children and adolescents.
Alejandra Rodríguez: psychopedagogy in a key stage of life.
On this occasion we spoke with Alejandra Rodríguez García, psychopedagogue and expert in caring for children with special needs. In this interview she explains what it is like to work helping young people with problems that can interfere with their educational path.
What services do you offer at your center?
In our center we carry out different projects. On the one hand, we have the project that concerns us, the attention to students with specific educational support needs. Within this attention, we focus on two main services: both pedagogical reinforcement and reinforcement in the area of language. Both are essential for a school-age child to be able to successfully complete his or her studies, despite his or her limitations.
Within this project we also offer study techniques services, to improve attention problems, reading and writing problems, reading comprehension, anxiety problems, lack of concentration, difficulties in social skills or in improving emotional intelligence, regardless of whether they are diagnosed as SEN students or not.
A second project, also close to the previous one, is school support, from kindergarten to high school. In this project, we focus on improving and helping the students of the center in their daily lives, so that we have professionals specialized in all areas and subjects they need. With a very close treatment to the student, where we always try to get the best out of him or her, getting them to achieve their goals and helping them in the process.
The third project is languages. We have native teachers in English, French, German, Italian, Arabic, Japanese and Spanish, so that as languages are closely linked today to both school-age students and the business world, we have classes both individually and in small groups, and adapted to the needs of the student.
The latest project that we have in our center is the preparation of the competitive examinations at both state and regional level. We prepare different specialties, both in the field of education, such as health and administrative.
What are the main disorders or problems in which you intervene?
The professionals we have in the center are prepared to meet any type of need (intellectual disability, ADHD, motor disability, autism spectrum disorder, any type of learning difficulty, such as any problem related to language ...).
In our trajectory, the students who come to us the most are students diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger's, specific language disorder and dyslexia, but as I mentioned before, we can attend to any student whatever the need they may have.
Taking into account the positive impact on society that this kind of services have, especially in relation to people in vulnerable situations, are there any grants or scholarship systems associated with what you do?
Both in the Junta de Andalucía and at the State level, there are scholarships for students with Special Educational Needs.
Focusing on Andalusia, the scholarship is applied for in September. The guidance counselor of the center where the child attends school has to mark what reinforcement is needed, usually language reinforcement and pedagogical reinforcement.
The next step is for the student's mother or father to choose the center where they want to take their son or daughter so that, in the afternoons, they can give them the service they need. Then he/she brings us the scholarship and we make a report of what we are going to work with the student throughout the year, so that this report, together with what is done in the center by the Guidance Department or the Educational Guidance Team, is presented to the scholarship section and, by November or December, they tell him/her if the scholarship has been granted or not.
This type of scholarship, always subject to the parents' income, covers all the assistance they need, both in pedagogical reinforcement and language reinforcement, so the parents do not have to pay for any of the services provided at the center.
Do you focus only on the care of the children benefiting from these scholarships?
No, we are aware that the scholarship is very limiting and that there are students who need help and are not eligible for it, so that's what we are there for as well. We have very competitive prices so that no child is left unattended.
Probably, in an area like this there is a significant difference between theory and practice. What do you think are the most relevant aspects you have learned during your professional career about attention to diversity?
Mainly, that every child is different, that as you say, theory is one thing and practice is another, because we cannot apply the same theoretical principles to all children equally. Each child has different abilities, a different learning style, a different learning pace, and for that reason, we as professionals have to adapt to them and not they to us.
What happens beyond the consultation is very relevant; how do you work in collaboration with the families of these children?
For us, the family is a basic pillar in the psycho-pedagogical process. From the very beginning, we have a very close relationship with the parents of our students. We listen to them, address their concerns and give them the best solution, always in consensus. There are many ways of communication, we provide the WhatsApp service, since it is one of the most demanded by families.
What is the work philosophy that you apply in the center, and what do you think characterizes your way of understanding the services you offer?
The five key points in our work are quality, excellence, loyalty, professionalism and proximity.
What aspects of your work in supporting these people do you find most stimulating and motivating?
It is essential that we as professionals know how to understand the student, their needs, their concerns and, above all, teach them to manage their emotions, self-esteem, resilience and self-control. All this in order to be able to cope satisfactorily with any difficulties that may be encountered along the way.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)