I opened the cover of the shape book, held it up to my face, and gave Joey a quick smile through the cut out circle in the cover of the book. I’m not sure why I did it, but in the moment it had seemed like a silly interaction between reading different books. Not thinking anymore about it, I placed the book on his tray and turned around to get something else. When I turned back to Joey, he was holding the book up and grinning at me through the hole, with his eyes sparkling playfully. He quickly lost his grip on the awkward book, but he worked to turn the book from side to side and try to get his head back through the hole in the cover. He giggled and laughed throughout this experience, proud of himself for copying me joke, for surprising me, and for managing to get the book up in front of his face so many times. [Read more…]
This is the first in a series on play.
Play: why it is important, how it develops, and what this means for Joey
Much of what I hope to do with Joey and my work with our adapted readings is to foster his development through play. We learn about our world through play, and this play builds a foundation for our next developmental stages in life. In early childhood, play is often considered essential for creating a strong foundation for both learning and emotional regulation. [Read more…]
One surprising aspect of Joey’s communication growth over the last year has been to watch how his overall methods of communication increased along with his use of his Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) device. I often hear people fear that using an AAC device will mean that a child stops developing oral language, because he no longer has a need for it. I hear this from teachers and parents, and frankly, the first time anyone told me about an AAC device I asked the same thing. “If he can push a button and get what he wants, why on earth would he ever speak again?” “If he can talk, then why would we introduce him to a way of communicating that does not involve oral language?” [Read more…]
Here in Northern Virginia, we had a string of snow days a few weeks ago that kept us inside and our kids home from school. Not being one from letting something like a day home from school stop learning, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to incorporate other children into my work with Joey. In the classroom, I’ve found that so many of the routine, repetitive practices like the daily calendar lessons are powerful because children learn from their peers. Typically, Joey is not able to benefit from peer models during our one on one sessions, but Monday, with schools closed and the roads perfectly fine, it seemed like a good time to play school at Joey’s house.
I brought my kindergarten daughter along for my session, and Joey’s older brother, who is also in kindergarten, joined us. The two older kids seemed unsure at first, but being professional kindergarten students who both participate in a morning meeting and calendar time every day at school, they quickly figured out their roles.
Joey was an excited participant in this experiment. He grinned as we went through his typical calendar routine. As we counted the dates on the calendar, Joey counted along with us, making a verbal utterance for each number, and occasionally glancing at the two older kids who were counting along.
Of course, our new eager classmates were quick to provide answers that Joey typically is given wait-time for, but this gave him an opportunity to see other kids answering the same questions he answers every day. It gave his work authenticity, and made it social and interactive.
We were able to do a morning meeting with a greeting where they gave each other high five’s, our calendar math work with number recognition and patterning, and then read two of our interactive books. Although Joey was quieter during this session than he typically is, he was alert and aware of what was going on, and did not use the device to tell me he was bored of lead me off topic by telling me a story about helicopters, airplanes, or spiders.
When we read Seals on the Bus, which is currently one of Joey’s favorite books, he was able to watch his brother and my daughter act out parts of the story. So far, Joey has not fully embraced symbolic play during our sessions. During this session, he was able to watch the two older children become silly and act out the story. As they laughed at the silly things they made the people on the bus do, he smiled. I’m hoping that watching them enjoy symbolic play with objects will help him begin to engage in symbolic play.
Our mini-class was so much fun that now I’m hoping for more days of closed school with good road conditions so we can repeat it this winter.
Joey’s eyes hovered over his device, scanning it for the words he wanted to use. He repeated some words over and over again, and each time I tried to follow up and understand what he was saying. I kept getting it wrong. I’d ask some sort of clarifying question, and he’d go back into his device to repeat the words again, putting them in a different order or adding a new word to the mix. Off. Brown. Down. Turn. Fast. Down. Black. Turn. Yet any comment I made about what he was trying to tell me was met with a head shake. Eventually, a few tears began to run down his face. Through the tears he went back into his talky, looking for new words to make himself clear. [Read more…]