Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Post Turkey-day

Thanksgiving is over, the company has left and now I’m back at work, enjoying the stories my students tell of their holiday. Turkey was a huge topic as was pumpkin pie, ice cream, peanut butter sandwiches (go figure) and visiting relatives. Some of my students; however, could not tell any details of their week away from school. Their faces lit up when I asked about their vacations but that was about as far as their communication skills could take them.

Communication problems come in a variety of packages. There are those adorable little errors when children say “fwee” for “three”, (adorable when a child is three but not so cute as they grow older). There are language delays where children find it hard to put their thoughts into coherent sentences and say things like, “Me goed to store.” And there are those frustrating language disorders where children have trouble processing information, organizing thoughts, and following directions.

One afternoon I saw such a student walking around the campus looking very lost. He was trying to follow his teacher’s directions but he had no idea where he was expected to go and he didn’t have the skills to ask for clarification. He just meandered around the campus, apparently hoping something would turn up. He certainly looked relieved when I spotted him and helped him find his way. The same student used to pop into my room three times a day and ask, “Is it time for speech?” He has speech/language therapy two times a week, after his lunch recess but he’d check in with me every day after every recess. His teacher solved the problem by giving him a visual schedule so he can always see what is happening next. He’s only 6 ½ years old and has plenty of time to learn life management skills but his teacher is giving him great supports for the classroom. Many children would benefit from a picture schedule so they can better manage their day – I don’t know how I’d function without my appointment book!

I’m glad my student is able to follow his schedule, but I must admit, I miss that little face peeking into my room three times a day. 

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