Back to School Countdown! 1….Huan

For many, tomorrow is the first day of school. Huan is here to count down this last day and share some fantastic news! Huan has been very clear about his feelings about his education.  At the beginning of the Summer, Huan, Ben, their families and I attended the Virginia State, I’m Determined Summit for youth with disabilities at James Madison University (I will tell you more about this amazing experience in a future post…so many great things to blog about, so little time!). The youth summit was very empowering! The guys participated in daily, small and large group sessions.  I tagged along, letter board in hand, serving as translator and trying to keep up with these two dynamos! The focus of the I’m Determined Summit was to encourage students to: advocate for themselves; navigate obstacles and roadblocks to their success; set short and long-term goals; and participate in their IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings.  By the end of the summit, Huan had developed clearly defined plans. His long term goal:  ATTEND COLLEGE AS A RESIDENT STUDENT. To reach this goal, Huan specified his short-term goals, among those goals was: LEAVE SPECIAL EDUCATION IMMEDIATELY.  After reviewing the work Huan completed at the Youth Summit, his parents immediately called his school to schedule a new IEP meeting.  Huan completed the lesson below on August 14, 2014. Keep reading to find out what happened at the IEP meeting on August 28, 2014!

"The goal of education is not to educate for the sake of education but to learn," Huan.

“The goal of education is not to educate for the sake of education but to learn,” Huan.

Back to School
*Note, Huan has just started using the keyboard for his responses. Because this is a new skill, it is physically and mentally demanding, so we used the keyboard for the questions and quotes and the letter board for the creative writing.  

Today we are going to talk about education!

Spell Education.   EDUCATION

What do you think of when you hear the word education? LEARNING

Tell me one thing you expect to see at schools.  CLASSROOMS

Let’s discuss some famous quotes about education. Listen to the quote and tell me what you think it means.  (Click here for the entire lesson!) 

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”
~Conrad Hall (American cinematographer)
LEARNING NEVER STOPS.  YOU NEED TO MAKE FOR LONG TERM LEARNING.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER AND YOU NEED POWER TO MAKE CHANGES IN THE WORLD.

“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” ~John Dewey
THE GOAL OF EDUCATION IS NOT TO EDUCATE FOR THE SAKE OF EDUCATION BUT TO LEARN.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~Aristotle
JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING DOES NOT MEAN IT IS A FACT.

“The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women.” ~ Booker T. Washington
EDUCATION DOES NOT JUST HAPPEN AT SCHOOL.

Creative Writing: Write a letter to your teachers. Tell them about yourself. How do you learn best? What do you expect out of school this year?  What can they expect of you?

DEAR TEACHERS,
I AM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR.  NICE TO BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE MY EXPECTATIONS TO YOU.  I EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO ATTEND REGULAR CLASSES AND ACCESS GENERAL ED CLASSES.  FAIR EDUCATION IS BASED ON INTELLIGENCE NOT ON SPEAKING ABILITY.  I DO NOT HAVE TO SPEAK TO LEARN OR ACCESS REGULAR ED.  I AM FULLY CAPABLE OF LEARNING WITHOUT TALKING.  I DO NOT REQUIRE AN AIDE AS I CAN GO TO CLASSES INDEPENDENTLY.  BASICALLY, I AM ONLY ASKING FOR THE SAME THINGS YOU PROVIDE ALL OTHER STUDENTS.
SINCERELY,
HUAN

It doesn’t get any more clear than this! With this intention set, Huan, his parents and I entered his IEP meeting Friday morning.  Huan led off the meeting with this statement that he spelled on the letter board, “I AM HAPPY TO BE HERE TODAY. PLEASE KNOW THAT I RESPECT YOU AS EDUCATORS AND I WOULD LIKE TO REQUEST THAT YOU ALLOW ME TO ATTEND REGULAR EDUCATION CLASSES THIS YEAR. EVEN THOUGH I AM NONSPEAKING, I AM CAPABLE OF LEARNING.”  Bam!!! That is an opening statement! From this point the discussions began in earnest. Huan responded to questions from the team on the letter board and the wireless keyboard. Over the course of the meeting, there was a slow shift…from shock and disbelief to admiration and acceptance (this was the first time anyone from Huan’s school had seen him using RPM.) Huan and his family are not asking for the school to use RPM, just to allow him to attend classes in general education. The bottom line….after much discussion, the committee has agreed that Huan can attend regular classes!!! Another IEP meeting is needed to work out all the particulars, but tomorrow, Huan will begin visiting some regular ed classes to determine which classes he would like to take! Huan’s response to the committee, THANK YOU FOR YOUR BELIEF IN ME.  IT MEANS SO MUCH TO ME.

Huan and I at his IEP.

Huan and I at his IEP!  “I would like to request that you allow me to attend regular education classes this year.”

WOW! This moment was one of the best of my entire career! Huan was completely relaxed and radiating confidence the entire meeting (I have to confess that my hands were shaking for at least the first 2 minutes). Huan, his family and I walked out of the meeting with as much decorum as possible, walked down the hall and broke out into the craziest happy dance you can imagine! One GIANT step for Huan, one small step forward for nonspeaking kids everywhere!!!! ~Elizabeth

 

Back to School Countdown! 2….Emma

Emma is ready for school and counting down 2 more days to go! Emma and I have worked together for 10 years. She and I laugh and learn from each other. Our sessions are loud! Over the summer, Emma’s fluency on the boards has improved significantly and I enjoy her insightful observations. I often wonder who is really teaching whom in our arrangement!

Emma celebrates her last few days of summer at hockey camp!

Emma celebrates her last few days of summer at hockey camp!

Back to School
Today we are going to talk about education!

Spell Education.  EDUCATION

What do you think of when you hear the word education?  SCHOOL

Tell me one thing you expect see at schools.  STUDENTS

Give me a word that goes with Hight School.  MESSY ROOMS

Let’s discuss some famous quotes about education. Listen to the quote and tell me what you think it means. (see all the quotes in this lesson here)

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”
~Conrad Hall (American cinematographer)
YOU MUST NEVER QUIT LEARNING BECAUSE THERE IS MORE TO KNOW.

“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” ~John Dewey
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR EDUCATION. THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN FROM EVERY PERSON YOU MEET.

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”~ George Washington Carver
THE TRUTH WILL ALWAYS LEAD YOU TO FREEDOM. THE KEY IS TO KNOW THE TRUTH.

Creative Writing: Write a letter to your teachers. Tell them about yourself. How do you learn best? What do you expect out of school this year? What can be expected from you?

DEAR TEACHERS,
I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING YOU.  I AM REALLY SMART.  YOU SHOULD TRY TO CHALLENGE ME BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO WASTE MY EDUCATION.  I LIKE TO LEARN EVERYTHING THAT I CAN.  I DO NOT LIKE BEING TREATED LIKE A BABY.  I WANT TO BE TREATED LIKE I AM SMART AND CAPABLE OF LEARNING.  PLEASE RESPECT ME AND I WILL RESPECT YOU.
LOVE,
EMMA

I think my favorite quote is, “The truth will always lead you to freedom. The key is to know the truth.” Wise words Emma! I am looking forward to seeing all that you will learn this year! ~Elizabeth

Back to School Countdown! 3….Matthew

Meet Matthew! Matthew is a RPM newbie who picked up communication on the letter board quickly. (Remember, each person brings their own assets and challenges to the table when learning anything new….for some learning RPM is a quick process, for others it is a slow and steady process. The key is to meet your learner where they are!). Matthew is bright, inquisitive, has a definite sense of humor and perfect pitch! I have found that I often have one of the tunes that Matthew sang or hummed during our sessions stuck in my head. One little ditty stayed with me so long that by the end of the day, I was so hooked I had to download the song! Not all kids who use RPM are nonspeaking. Matthew has great speech and is able to be communicative through a mix of scripted and unscripted speech. When Matthew gets on the letter boards, he is able to access much richer, much more fluent, novel language. (Keep in mind, speech and language are two very different skills. I will talk more about that in an upcoming blog. Stay tuned!)

Matthew completed this lesson on education on his 6th session. His mom and I discussed the fact that this lesson is relatively complex requiring open-ended responses, which Matthew had just started to use in previous lessons. We agreed to raise the bar and see how Matthew would do (I could always modify the lesson as we went along if needed). Well….clearly, Matthew saw that bar, LEAPED over it and issued a challenge of his own! Once again, my clients show that they are willing and ready for educational challenges. Every day I am further convinced that my challenge to keep up with my eager learners!

photo (1)

Matthew advises, “Books can educate us and so can people. Read and listen.”

Back to School
Today we are going to talk about education!

Spell Education   EDUCATION

What do you think of when you hear the word education?  STUDENTS

Tell me one thing you expect see at school.  SCHEDULE

Give me a word that goes with your school?  ARTS AND CRAFTS

What do you think the following quotes mean? (Click here for the complete lesson)

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” ~Conrad Hall (American cinematographer)
MUST MOVE FORWARD IN SCHOOL AND LIFE.

 “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
CHANGE THE WORLD BY EDUCATION OF ALL PEOPLE OF ALL TYPES.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~Aristotle
INSIDE SCHOOL THE SCHOOL IS EMPTY. LEARNING CAN HAPPEN AND LISTENING CAN BE EDUCATIONAL.

“The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women.” ~ Booker T. Washington
BOOKS CAN EDUCATE US AND SO CAN PEOPLE.  READ AND LISTEN.

Creative Writing: Write a letter to your teachers. Tell them about yourself. How do you learn best? What do you expect out of school this year? What can they expect of you?

DEAR MR. ________, [name deleted]
I AM REALLY HAPPY TO BE COMING TO SCHOOL AGAIN THIS YEAR.  I LIKE SCIENCE AND SOCIAL STUDIES.  IF THE PRINCIPAL AGREES AND THE STUDENTS WILL PARTICIPATE AND THE PARENTS WILL ALLOW IT  I HOPE YOU ARE WILLING TO BE REBELLIOUS AND REALLY TEACH US THIS YEAR. THINK ABOUT WILLINGNESS TO EDUCATE.
LOVE,
MATTHEW

Matthew, I hope that principals, students, parents and teachers everywhere will accept your invitation to be rebellious and presume competence! What if everyone just shifted their thinking a tiny bit and thought, “I bet they CAN” instead of, “I am sure they can’t”. Go ahead! Be “rebellious…think about willingness to educate”! Matthew and I are rooting for you! ~Elizabeth

Back to School Countdown! 4….Ethan

Ethan is another one of my kids who is facing a big change this year. He is entering Middle School (gulp), which can certainly be a tricky time for any kid! Actually, since Ethan is in Maryland, he is already back in school because they start the week before Labor Day. Once again, Ethan is a step ahead of us! Ethan will be included (with support and allowed to respond by typing on his iPad) in some general education classes! WooHoo! This is fantastic step forward and opportunity for Ethan to really learn and SHINE!

Last days at the beach before Ethan jumps back into school!

Last days at the beach before Ethan jumps back into school!

Back to School
Spell Education.  EDUCATION

What do you think of when you hear the word education?  LEARNING

Tell me one thing you expect see at schools.  STUDENTS

Give me a word that goes with Middle School.  FOR BIG KIDS

Let’s talk about some quotes about education. Listen to the quote and tell me what you think it means. (You can find the entire lesson here).

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”
~ Conrad Hall
FIRST YOU HAVE TO LEARN THEN YOU HAVE TO KEEP LEARNING.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~ Aristotle
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU LEARN.

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.”  ~George Washington Carver
EDUCATION IS THE SOLUTION TO UNLOCKING THE JAIL OF IGNORANCE.

Creative Writing: Write a letter to your new teachers.  Tell them about yourself.  How do you learn best. What do you expect out of school this year. What can they expect of you.

DEAR MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHERS,
MY NAME IS ETHAN.  I AM TWELVE YEARS OLD.  I AM EXCITED ABOUT MIDDLE SCHOOL. NOW I AM READY TO BE CHALLENGED.  MY EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT TO ME.  I WANT TO BE TAUGHT LIKE I AM SMART NOT LIKE I AM MENTALLY RETARDED. PLEASE DO NOT THINK THAT JUST BECAUSE I CANNOT TALK WELL THAT I CANNOT LEARN WELL.  I AM VERY SMART BUT MY BODY IS STUPID.  IT DOES NOT DO WHAT MY BRAIN TELLS IT TO DO.  THAT IS WHY SOMETIMES I MAKE NOISES OR ACT RIDICULOUS.  JUST IGNORE MY BODY AND TALK TO MY BRAIN.  I AM LISTENING ALL THE TIME ONLY IT DOES NOT LOOK LIKE IT.   I AM LOTS OF FUN GIVE ME A CHANCE TO SHOW YOU.
SINCERELY,
ETHAN

Ethan, you have all the tools for success in Middle School this year; a supportive school, an encouraging family, a great brain, a means to communicate, and an incredible desire to learn! The sky is the limit!  ~Elizabeth

Back to School Countdown! 5….Davis

Ushering in day 5 is Davis!  This is the first you have heard from Davis (who recently turned 18) but it won’t be the last because he has plenty to share. Davis and I have been working together since the end of May and each session brings tremendous growth in his RPM skills. Davis and I share a love of coffee, Target and food. He has a smile that could melt Antarctica! Over the summer, Davis was often accompanied by his biggest fans – his two sisters who could not be more supportive or proud of their big brother and his communication breakthroughs! Davis’ mom reports that Davis loves his school but wants to be challenged academically. His entire family has been hard at work over the summer, feeding Davis’ hungry brain; working with him at the computer for online courses, reading aloud and including him in family discussions.

Davis and his little sister, Margaret, at Lake Tahoe (or as Davis calls it, Lake Taco).

Davis and his little sister, Margaret, at Lake Tahoe (or as Davis calls it, Lake Taco).

Back to School

Today we are going to talk about education!

Spell Education   EDUCATION

What do you think of when you hear the word education   LEARNING
Tell me one thing you expect see at schools   STUDENTS
Give me a word that goes with your school   LOUD
What do you think the following quotes mean? (You can find the complete lesson here).

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”~Conrad Hall (American cinematographer)
DO NOT STOP LEARNING EVEN WHEN YOU ARE OLD.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”~ Nelson Mandela

MANDELA WAS RIGHT.  EDUCATION IS A MUST IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD.

“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” ~John Dewey
SCHOOL IS SUPPOSED TO READY YOU FOR LIFE NOT BORE YOU TO DEATH.

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” ~ George Washington Carver LIFE AS AN AUTISTIC HAS TAUGHT ME SO MUCH ABOUT THE WORLD THAT SCHOOL COULD NEVER TEACH ME.

Creative Writing:
 Write a letter to your teachers. Tell them about yourself. How do you learn best? What do you expect out of school this year?  What should they expect from you?

DEAR TEACHERS,
LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF BECAUSE YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW ME.  SO I AM SMART BUT YOU REALLY DON’T KNOW THAT.  IF YOU DID YOU WOULD TEACH ME SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU ARE.  STEP UP TO MY CHALLENGE.
LOVE,

DAVIS

Did I mention that Davis is a man who knows what he wants and does not pull any punches? Consistently, my kids who are spelling on the letter boards express a desire to learn! Remember that RPM is a method for education *and* communication! You do not have to be skilled on the letter boards or a teacher to engage kids in learning….read, expose (youtube, movies, news), explain and talk about the world, the arts, history, your interests, ANYTHING! There are opportunities to teach and learn everywhere – grab them! ~Elizabeth

Back to School Countdown! 6…. Luke

Luke joins us today to count down another day until school starts. Luke (8 years old) will be attending a new school this year and is understandably nervous but optimistic about meeting his new teacher and classmates. Luke has become quite adept on the boards since beginning his RPM journey in April 2014 and is quite eager to learn. All of us are hopeful that Luke’s new school will be open to challenging his hungry brain!

Luke will be going back to school looking sharp! He used RPM to pick out some duds!

Luke will be going back to school looking sharp! He used RPM to pick out some duds!

Back to School
Today we are going to talk about education!

Spell Education.   EDUCATION

What do you think of when you hear the word education?  SCHOOL

Tell me one thing you expect to see at schools.  STUDENTS

Give me a word that tells how you feel about your new school.  NERVOUS

Let’s discuss some famous quotes about education. Listen to the quote and tell me what you think it means.  (click here for the complete lesson)

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”
~Conrad Hall (American cinematographer)
DONT STOP LEARNING EVEN WHEN YOU ARE OLD AND OUT OF SCHOOL

“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” ~John Dewey
ONCE YOU ARE EDUCATED LIFE IS NOT THE SAME BECAUSE NOW YOU ARE REALLY PREPARED FOR ANYTHING.

Creative Writing: Write a letter to your teachers. Tell them about yourself. How do you learn best? What do you expect out of school this year?  What can they expect of you?

DEAR TEACHERS,
I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING YOU SOON.  MY HOPE IS THAT YOU WILL TRUST THAT I AM SMART EVEN THOUGH I MAY NOT SEEM LIKE IT FROM THE OUTSIDE.  I ONLY WANT A CHANCE TO SHOW THAT I CAN LEARN.
FROM,
LUKE

I know that given a chance, Luke is bound to impress everyone he meets in his new school! Go Luke, we are all so proud of you! ~Elizabeth

Back to School Countdown! 7….Ian

I have operated on an academic calendar for most of my life – as a student, a mother, professor and clinician. So, back to school time is my New Year’s. Time for new goals, fresh starts, school supplies and sharpened pencils! In Virginia, school starts the day after Labor Day (I know in some of you have been back in school already so we are catching up to you!). For many of my clients, they are returning to school now fluently able to express themselves through RPM. This is a game changer! So, I wrote a lesson on education as a forum for my kids to express their hopes and expectations about the coming school year. The responses  have been spectacular! In fact, they have been so fantastic that I could not choose just one to share. So, for the next week I am going to feature daily  blogs in a back to school countdown! Happy New Year!

Day 7, stars Ian, my kiddo in Seattle. I support Ian’s ongoing RPM work at home via “virtual RPM lessons”. Ian completed this lesson with his RPM provider in Seattle, Andi Galliher.

IMG_8252

This summer, Ian said he didn’t like the way he looked in pictures…

IMG_8249

…so, he and Andi have been doing “selfie therapy”! This smile says it might be working!

Back to School

Today we are going to talk about education!

Spell Education.   EDUCATION

What do you think of when you hear the word education?   I THINK OF LEARNING AND LOTS OF CHILDREN IN SCHOOL FINDING OUT WHAT THEY ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT

Tell me one thing you expect to see at schools.  I EXPECT TO SEE RESPECT FOR ALL LEARNERS

Give me a word that goes with High School.  FOR ME BULLYING.  BUT I WISH IT HAD MORE TO DO WITH PREPARING FOR COLLEGE OR WORK IN THE FUTURE.

Let’s discuss some famous quotes about education. Listen to the quote and tell me what you think it means.  (*Note: I do not usually have clients respond to all of these quotes in a session. I usually choose 4 or 5 but like to have the options to choose from depending on my learner. Ian is an overachiever – so he did them all!)

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”
~Conrad Hall (American cinematographer)
WE ARE ALWAYS LEARNING AND AREN’T PERFECT

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
KIDS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR WORLD WITH A GOOD EDUCATION

“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” ~John Dewey
EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT TO ME.  FIND A RIGHT WAY TO WORK WITH ME AT SCHOOL PLEASE.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~Aristotle   BE OPEN TO NEW IDEAS EVEN IF YOU ARENT SURE ABOUT THEM

“Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” ~ George Washington Carver EDUCATION OPENS UP MANY OPPORTUNITIES

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ~Mark Twain
EVEN IF YOUR SCHOOL IS NOT WORKING THE BEST FOR YOU YOU CAN STILL ABSORB A LOT BY LISTENING AND OBSERVING

“The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women.” ~ Booker T. Washington
I NEED PEOPLE TO BELIEVE IN ME

Creative Writing: Write a letter to your teachers. Tell them about yourself. How do you learn best? What do you expect out of school this year?  What can they expect of you?

DEAR TEACHERS,
THANKS FOR BEING HERE.  I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I AM AN AUDITORY LEARNER AND I HAVE DIFFICULTIES WITH MY MOTOR CONTROL AND ANXIETY.  MY AUTISM DOES NOT DEFINE ME.  I DON’T WANT THIS ALONG WITH MY LACK OF MEANINGFUL VERBAL COMMUNICATION TO HOLD ME BACK.  I EXPECT TO BE IN REGULAR CLASSES AND BE CHALLENGED WITH NEW CURRICULUM.  PLEASE BE PATIENT WITH ME.
SINCERELY,
IAN

Wow, right!?  Thank you Ian and Andi! Feel free to use this lesson with your child. I would love to hear what your student has to say, I welcome your responses in the comments section.  See you tomorrow!  ~Elizabeth