Applying Empathy Curriculum to Enhance the Role of the Paraprofessional for Students with Multiple Disabilities

Christopher Russel

Soribel Genao, PhD


CUNY, Queens College


This issue ofNASET’s Working with Paraprofessionals in Your Classroom series comes from the Fall 2021 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Special Education Professionals. The primary aim of this paper is to address how empathy curriculum can be applied to training needs of paraprofessionals working with students who have multiple disabilities.  A thorough review of the literature on the role of the paraprofessional and implications for training and supervision is provided.  This is juxtaposed with a review of the literature on empathy training/curriculum, and a discussion on the potential for applying empathy curriculum to existing needs for paraprofessional training.  Results of a survey of 32 paraprofessionals working with students with multiple disabilities across New York State are presented.  The survey emphasizes paraprofessionals’ experience with training relevant to components of empathy, and self-reported perceptions of effectiveness in developing positive relationships and supporting holistic educational programs for students with multiple disabilities.  The review and synthesis of literature from these two fields, and the survey results, suggest that empathy curriculum is a relevant area of training need to paraprofessionals, and further research is warranted on the topic.

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