No, I’m not talking about the hurdles you jump over in track & field. I’m talking real-life hurdles–the ones we deal with daily, that you can’t solve by simply going to sleep and looking at your hurdle with fresh eyes the next morning. I’m 5’4″, give or take a 1/2″, and I’m staring up at a 6′ tall hurdle. (okay, maybe a SLIGHT exaggeration, but still.)
My kids aren’t talkers. A Speech/Language Pathologist with a caseload of non-verbal students is a pretty large hurdle, I’d say (but I’m biased, so…). My biggest challenge, and actually, saving grace, has been a caseload of kids who I’m working on language skills through play and in their curriculum and during snack time.
Sounds fun, huh? Not so much when they get a fistful of your curly locks because you wouldn’t give them “more juice” without asking. Not so much when they spit at you because they don’t want to work to get play time. Not so much when they slobber on their hand, then slap you across the face (okay, that was one time, but it still hurt!).
So my biggest challenge as an SLP with my kids is to toe the line between making them want to communicate and avoiding the communicative behaviors that clearly state “lady, you’re not going to make me sign ‘more’ or hit that stupid Big Mack one more time today, and I’ll prove it.”
A huge saving grace for me has been integrating communication into sensory arts classes. In typical schools, we would have art class and music class, but in my school, we have a rockin’ teacher who takes care of both. 🙂
I had no idea how much easier life could be when the lesson is made up for me, and my sole job is to make communication boards/program devices to suit the lessons! (Which is still incredibly time consuming, but at least I didn’t have to write the lesson plan!!)
This week is multicultural week, and we’re learning about Africa. I don’t want to steal my colleague’s hard work, but let me just say that those kids were making African prints, and those designs were some of the coolest artwork I’ve seen.
So, you say, helping the kids make choices and having them push buttons to indicate said choices sounds pretty doable, right? Let me include this fact: over half my school is visually impaired, with a large portion of students who are blind (and most of those students are also deaf or hard-of-hearing! but that’s another story for another day…). How am I supposed to get them to make choices of pictures that I’ve printed? They’re two-dimensional!
Well, my friends, here enters my creative side: in a stroke of creativity during the lesson today, I decided to make these gems:
(please ignore the earrings and huge glare that I didn’t notice until I posted this!)
My VI students inspired me to create this rudimentary symbol for a monkey tail and a lion mane. My hope is that the students can at least make a tactile decision about what animals we sang about.
I’m curious to see how this lesson pans out! I’m hoping well, because that lion mane took 2 re-runs of Lost and an entire hot-glue stick to fabricate!!