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Para eLink: Where Minnesota's Paraprofessionals Learn Online
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K9: Understanding the paraprofessionalís role regarding communication with students, studentsí families, and the community that supports learning and well-being for student with Other Health Disabilities.

K10: Understanding the paraprofessionalís role within the educational roles and responsibilities of teachers and support personnel in providing educational services to students with OHD.

S4: Demonstrating the understanding to utilize opportunities for students with OHD to participate, interact, and learn with all students.

Picture of a para helping 2 students with a reading assignment.Introduction

In this unit, paraprofessionals will learn about their role in supporting students with Other Health Disabilities (OHD) in educational and community settings. The paraprofessional will have an opportunity to review information about educational roles and duties of teachers, school nurses, support staff, and other professionals (counselors, social workers, librarians, administrators, etc.) who provide educational services and support for students. In addition, the paraprofessional will learn how his/her role focuses on the health and educational support needs of students with health conditions.

The paraprofessional will learn the importance of communicating effectively with students, their families, and other community members who support the learning and well-being of students with health conditions. There are many types of health conditions that have a variety of physical, educational, emotional, and social impacts on students, their families, and others who provide support to the students. The paraprofessional will need skills as an active listener, excellent observer, and careful monitor, as well as be skillful at sharing critical information with others on the educational team. This unit will help the paraprofessional understand the importance of good communication in working with all professionals and family members who support the student. It is important to be able to communicate effectively about the student’s progress or lack thereof, the student’s educational growth and development, and the student’s physical, educational, social, and emotional well-being.

This unit will also help the paraprofessional understand the importance of including students with OHD in activities with peers in a variety of learning and social situations. The success of the paraprofessional depends on knowing as much as possible about the specific student with OHD, including key information about the health condition, the student’s strengths, talents, interests, and wishes, their limitations and challenges, the types of general and specific supports that are needed, and the educational, family, and community resources available to support the student’s educational progress. This knowledge will help the paraprofessional identify, advocate for, and use unique learning opportunities to include students with OHD in activities and events with students of all abilities.

Unit Objectives

Upon completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • Describe the paraprofessional’s role in supporting teachers and other school personnel in providing educational and other support services to students with OHD.
  • Discuss effective ways to communicate with students, their families, and key community members to support the learning and well-being of students with OHD.
  • Identify and use opportunities to include students with OHD in participating, interacting, and learning with students of all abilities.


Information for this unit was used with permission from:

Institute on Community Integration. (n.d.). Para eLink Core Competency Area 1: Philosophical, Historical, and Legal Foundations of Education, Introduction, Unit 1.3: Understanding the distinctions between roles and responsibilities of professionals, paraprofessionals, and support personnel, and Lesson 2: Roles and Responsibilities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. Retrieved March 28, 2007, from and


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