Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cast of Characters

So after spending a couple of days trying to decide if and what to blog next and THEN spending the whole weekend working on things in preparation for returning to school tomorrow, I decided to provide a Cast List of the characters in my room. All names except my own have been changed to protect the privacy of others, but personalities remain true to form.

First the kids, starting with the oldest and going to the youngest:
Ben: What an AWESOME kid and truly one of my favorite people. I'll be posting a short essay I wrote about him for ROCKO a bit later, so look for "Out of the Darkness." This kiddo is a true miracle boy in so many ways. He is not only the oldest in my class at almost 15 but also the highest functioning. He is working so hard to function around his disabilities which include Down syndrome, low vision and almost nonexistent hearing, organ issues, and bouts of depression (or something very like it). He is a blast to be around and my husband and I frequently do overnight respite care for him in our home. His mom, an awesome lady herself, is the Director of Operations for ROCKO so is my "boss" in more than one way and also a great friend.

Mike: This not-so-little guy only came to us 2 years ago. He is probably my most interesting and challenging student. At 14 he's been going through a growth spurt with resultant health issues that are bothering him a bit right now including scoliosis, increased seizures, GI reflux, and increased muscle tone. He's a trooper though and since his wheelchair was adjusted recently has begun tolerating it much better. Hopefully he'll start using his head switches again and we can get back to the important business of learning two switch step scanning, which he is quite good at when motivated. We are hoping to obtain a lap top for him using his deaf-blind grant that will increase his communication flexibility. Meanwhile I'm sure he'll continue to enjoy using his personal ipod as well as playing on the resonance board and positioning bench (more active learning equipment).

Chloe: Another of my favorite young people, Chloe is a teen in every sense of the word. She will be 14 this summer and is every inch a Queen. Her sense of humor is phenomenal and don't you dare take away her ipod (which is really hers: pink, even though she can't see colors, and engraved with HER name and holding HER music and HER audio books). Between a calorie increase and recovering from a major illness, her attention, stamina, and interest in the usual activities has improved greatly. She's even back to "walking" again using the HOPSA harness (for those familiar with Nielsen's active learning techniques) on the swing set in our classroom, which is TOTALLY COOL! She is so proud of herself. Next it's back to two switch step scanning and increasing her communication opportunities beyond asking for wants and needs.

Wayne: This vivacious 12 year old is something else. We call him Casanova because he is such a flirt. Definitely not an academic, though, as he couldn't care less about his "school work" even though he is perfectly capable of doing it. He'd far rather watch Sponge Bob or something else on TV or play video games or music videos from Priory Woods School (check it out if you haven't already) on the computer. His parents just bought him his very own tablet PC that we're (hopefully) going to use for some communication as well as edutainment (shhh...don't tell him it's for work or he'll never touch it!). He's a pro at the touch screen so now we just have to find the right wheelchair mount for him. Off to the world of Conversation for us!

And finally, Nicki: She's 6 months younger than Wayne and what a little doll. She is a beautiful kid and able to do so much, if she'd just share. She loves to play "jokes" on us and interacts like the little social butterfly she is. Her increased seizure meds have been causing a bit of a snag in progress but once that levels out I think she'll be her old self again. I'll be posting a little piece about her sometime in the near future too.

Now for the adults:
Miss C has been with me the longest and I honestly don't know what I'd do without her. She is the organizer of our little family and has definitely guaranteed herself a job as I can't find anything without her! She and Ben have a pretty close relationship and even though I don't really assign 1:1 staffing, she and he most often work together.

Miss M came to us through Miss C. Such a sweet woman and very sensitive to the needs of everyone in the room. She and Nicki have a very close relationship and Miss M can often get more out of her than anyone else.

Miss V has been with us since October. She is very good with my lowest functioning kids and a technology wiz.

Miss J has just joined us this summer. We're hoping she chooses to stick around as Wayne has become quite attached to her and with the new computer, I really need more 1:1 support for him. Besides, we like her.

We also have a number of guests with us this summer as I provide services to the three elementary-aged students in the SPMD program. B is the oldest and comes to us in one more year so it's been great to get to work with her and get to know her better. Her para Miss S came along for the ride. A comes with her hilarious nurse, Nurse F, who keeps us all in stitches. And little T may well be one of the reasons Nicki is acting out lately (do I spy the Little Green Monster peeking around the corner?). This little sweetie is extremely bright and gets to come under my wing for the rest of July since the para we had borrowed had to go back to her regular assignment this month.

That's the gang, with the exception of the PT, our wonderful SLP Mr. J, and the other periodic therapists and adults who are in and out of our little haven.

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