During my career there have been certain students who have made a lasting impression on me and aided in my growth as a speech language pathologist. It seemed that fate crossed our paths so that we could learn from each other. I am thinking in particular of a student who I met in her Kindergarten year. Her disability prevented her from speaking or using her arms and legs effectively although eventually she learned how to use her head to control a motorized wheel chair and a laser to activate an Alpha Talker and then a Delta Talker. This is when the field of augmentation communication was beginning to blossom with more advanced electronic devices. This child did not have the outward appearance of much ability other than a beautiful smile. However with her devices her true personality could shine.
I will never forget the time I worked with her at her home during extended summer services. She would be going into first grade when school resumed. Her mother reported she had something to tell me. She proceeded to tell me she had seen the movie Pocahontas. That doesn’t seem that unusual except she used her Delta Talker to do it and she had programmed the name Pocahontas into it herself. Those of you who have worked with min speak realize this involves not only getting into the programming mode but also selecting a symbol sequence to represent the name. She did all of this using a laser attached to a head band. She had learned the programming by watching me during other sessions. I learned not to underestimate her abilities when motivated.
She would be in her twenties now. I lost track of her after her elementary years but I think of her often. She reminds me that our first impressions of a student’s capabilities are not always correct.
How does this get us to Don’t Break the Ice you ask? Well it was difficult for her to play with her peers and have normal interactions. I was always searching for games I could adapt. Don’t Break the Ice was one of the games I adapted so she could play too. I basically took the orignal game and put masking tape along two sides. I then color coded the rows. This allowed her to tell another student what block of ice she wanted to be hit out by saying two colors. Where the colors intersect is the block chosen. She used her voice output system to communicate. The set up was also useful for other students using a communication board. You can color code a dice or spinner. Students roll a dice and then say what color they have or will hit out. It is good for I want, I have, I need statements.