Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chicken Soup for the Soul Blog Hop!

I hope you have been filling up on sweet stories that are sure to make you laugh or cry.  Everyone needs a little inspirational posts once in a while, especially in our field.  I'm so thankful for all these amazing bloggers that are willing to give you a peek into their wonderful terrible speechie experiences.

Here's another story that I'm hoping warms your heart a little.

A few years ago, our growing school split and a new school was opened.  I was placed at the new school.  It was my first time to be full time at one place, and I was a little nervous.  Being itinerant has a way of letting you fly under the radar a little...maybe get away with not taking many of the tough cases or not having much focus on you.  I was about to get a lot more students with complicated situations and difficulties.

One of the students I inherited was a sweet, beautiful little boy that we'll call JJ.  He was autistic and nonverbal at six years old.  He loved swings and electronics and laughing at everything.  JJ's teachers and parents really wanted him to speak.  I just wanted him to be motivated to communicate.  

At first I tried everything I could to get him to produce words.  I tried ABA techniques, whole language techniques, building his receptive language, and everything else I researched.  It wasn't happening.  He didn't want it.  JJ just wanted to stare at youtube videos and google images.  Yes, this kid was a computer genius.  That's when I decided to use his computer skills to my advantage.  

Scratch all the effort of getting him to speak.  I wanted to see if I could motivate him to communicate at all.  While watching him on the computer, I discovered that JJ could recognize words.  I began to put words of his favorite cartoons and videos on strips of paper for him to request what he wanted to watch.  He did great with it.  He'd even grab the word and take my hand and put it on the keyboard.  I always pushed for him to type the words himself, though he'd get frustrated at times.  

We kept at it.  He started to match words to pictures and built his vocabulary.  He would even write words or finish a written sentence on a dry-erase board.    

I really feel like this opened the door to communication for him.  Eventually, his parents and teachers got on board with alternative communication techniques, and he now does amazing things on his iPad.  He still has a ways to go, but he continues to learn and grow every day.  I'm so proud of him.

This experience really taught me that sometimes you have to think outside the box.  Think about what interests the child and go from there.  Also, it's ok to give things a try if what you're doing isn't working.  It might even give you great data to show parents on what their child is able to do.  

I love sharing happy stories!  Keep pushing through the blog hop and enjoy.  At the end of the hop, you'll have the chance to win some fabulous prizes!  Check out what we've got for you!

In order to enter, you'll have to add up all the numbers along the hop and put the total in the rafflecopter at the last stop.  Here's my number!

Head on over to the next blog by clicking the image below. 

If you need to start at the beginning, click on the following image to go back to the beginning.  Have fun and good luck!


  1. What a great story! Getting parents and teachers on board with AAC can be so tough sometimes.. I just had a meeting with parents of a student who I've started using AAC with-- Mom was totally on board, thought it was great, Dad was... less than thrilled about using it. Thankfully with Mom and teacher on board, I think Dad will come around as I share progress.. but getting everyone on board is tricky! Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Thanks, Kari! It's definitely not always easy getting everyone on board, but most of the time they always end up SO happy when they finally do!

  2. That is a wonderful story! Sometimes we have to go through a lot of different techniques to get to "the one"!

  3. What I see as especially beautiful here is that you keyed into your student rather than having him key into you! That takes a special person. Well done!!

  4. Awesome story!! A great reminder that you have to let your student lead sometimes!

  5. A great story! He was so lucky to have you as an SLP.


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