In the Classroom by Robin Myers
There is a child in my room with special needs. There are days when I think all of my children have special needs and while they do, Sid has more special needs every day than the others.
There are a lot of things Sid can't do. But there are so many other things that he can do better than anyone else. Just by being in our room, Sid inspires love, friendship and makes our group cohesive.
Sid is non-verbal and the children talk to him all the time. They are even learning sign language because they want to communicate with Sid. When Sid signs back, they are so pleased that they beam back at him. Sid is not able to put his coat on by himself, but he can open doors and go outside. When the children see Sid in the cold air without his coat, they kindly take his hand, bring him back into the room, put his coat on him and guide him back outside. This can be very difficult for the children, because Sid doesn't help them by putting his arms in the sleeves. The children are always so patient and just keep at it until the coat is on. Sid is mostly patient also. Sid often spills his work and instantly the children are there to clean up so he can continue on. They have even learned that Sid can now pick up some things he spills, but not others. When we were consulted recently I asked how I could invite Sid to stay for lunch. The thought of getting his place ready for him and maybe having to help him eat and then cleaning up with him was beyond me. What would happen to the rest of the group during that clean up time?! The consultant answered with, “The children will help him. You won't need to do anything.” Why didn't I think of that? So, Sid now stays for lunch. The children set his place and unpack his lunch, tell him to wash his hands, put on his bib and seat him at his table. Some food Sid can feed himself, but the rest of his food is fed to him by his child helper. Even the children who took forever to eat are now able to feed Sid and get their lunches eaten as well in the time that we have.
Just after the NAMTA conference in Portland that had lectures about extended language work as well as language delays, I shook Sid's hand and told him, “Good bye.” He made eye contact with me as he shook my hand and said, “Bye-bye.” I stared at him, speechless. Luckily my assistant and several other children were all there to hear Sid speak too. We all looked at each other and one of us finally said, “Sid talked!” I hugged him and said, “Good talking, Sid!” Word spread quickly through the school as we wrote letters to our old friends who know Sid but have gone on to elementary. They of course spent the next day writing letters back and spreading the news to all of their new friends as well. Every day now when I tell Sid good bye, he responds with his own farewell. It sounds similar to a moan accompanied by a hand wave. It has been given to me everyday since he spoke his first words. I'll take it!