Right before the whole world shut down for the COVID-19, my daughter and Joey’s older brother were home from school so they both participated in my session with Joey. My daughter was thrilled to get to see Joey again and read the high frequency words along with him. I think Joey’s older brother may have been happier to have not joined our group of kindergarteners, but he was a huge help regardless.
I like to think I know Joey pretty well, although I often worry that sometimes I give him too much credit. It’s that sad special education teacher voice in the back of my head that whispers, you saw it once, but have you seen it 8 out of 10 times? How do you know it’s mastered? That voice forces me to be overly cautious sometimes, although even then I like to think I am responsive to Joey.
And yet, in this group session, I was taken aback when multiple times during our session Joey’s brother quietly and respectfully interrupted me. “I think he’s saying share because they are sharing in the story.” And yes, that is exactly what Joey was saying. I’d been showing Joey the math word half that I was targeting, and after introducing that had already moved on when it appeared he randomly said “share.” Of course it wasn’t random, it was just a delayed response as he found the word share in his device. It took his brother, who is familiar with Joey’s rhythm and thoughts to know this.
Later in the session Joey became slightly agitated and was looking at a specific place in the room. “He wants to play with the robot,” his brother explained, to which Joey replied, “Understand” and gave him a loving gaze.
His brother gets him.
We all need someone who gets us, who knows our facial grimaces and can read our minds when we are trying to be polite to the rest of the world. I don’t know why I was so surprised by how fluidly Joey’s brother was able to interpret for him, but I was. I suppose it is because my own girls have the same age split as Joey and his brother, and I’m not sure my oldest can read my youngest quite as fluently. But she doesn’t have to. My youngest usually makes her intentions clearly known to the outside world. Joey can’t.
I love how Joey watches his brother with such love, and how his brother shares that love back with him. I’ve known other siblings in similar situations where the typically developing sibling downplayed their sibling’s abilities. Joey’s brother doesn’t do that. Instead, he brought them to my attention, not letting me, Joey’s teacher, go on without fully seeing what his brother can do.