Wednesday, January 21, 2015


So today, I had one of those moments in my classroom. You know the ones I am talking about. The ones where something clicks in one of your students and they do something you had always hope they would do, but didn't really ever expect to see. Yeah, one of those!! People, this is what keeps me teaching. When folks ask me how I can teach the students I teach, these moments are what I share. They have no idea what it feels like to patiently teach a student the same thing day after day (sometimes year after year) with limited progress until that moment when something clicks inside their brain, and voila, they do it independently. I have had a few moments like that, and I had one today!!! Life is sooooo good!!

So this particular student is mostly non verbal. He can say a few things, but unless you know what he is saying, it is very difficult to understand him. He has low cognition and his overall skills are at the pre-primer stage. But he works super hard at everything, and he has the sweetest personality and is always smiling. He is definitely a school favorite and many people greet him in the hallways as a result of his smile. When he first came to me in the 6th grade, he had an old Dynavox that weighed a ton. It was incredibly difficult to program and it was so heavy he had a hard time lugging it around. I worked with him on it, though, using it every opportunity we could, but it was limited in what it could say.

Then last year, we had an assistive tech eval and decided to get him an iPad (full size since fine motor skills are also an issue) and add Proloque2 as his software. He can recognize pictures and drawings of most common objects, but can't read. Again, we diligently worked with him on it, telling him what button to push to ask for things or using it as part of my lessons. It's lightweight, and very easy to program. We try to anticipate what his needs are and program it for those occasions. But his responses have always been prompted by us. For example, before we would take him to the restroom, we would tell him to push the restroom button, which would say, "I need to use the bathroom", etc. But he has never used it independently to communicate with us.

So today, we were working on a project. He can't tell time but he has memorized the times on our digital clock when he is supposed to move on to the next rotation. He kept looking at the clock and looking at us. Since we weren't done, I had decided to stay at that station for a little while longer to complete the project. Finally, I guess he couldn't stand it, so he reached for his device and pushed the button that says, "Is it time to check my schedule?", all on his own, appropriately, with no prompting from us. And it's a new button, something we have only had on there a few weeks. My IA and I got goosebumps and we clapped and told him yes, to please go check his schedule! He was beaming from ear to ear! I am still beaming thinking of this moment, because it was HUGE!! So proud!!
 This pic was taken right afterward, because I had to commemorate the moment in his life when he finally got a voice and knew how to use it. #evaluatethat.