this conference on technology in special education in which I have an hour and a half allocated for whatever I plan to say. An hour and a half. I predict lots of Powerpoint and perhaps a puppet show.
Summer with Schuyler continues to be sort of hit and miss, to be honest, although it's still a vast improvement over previous summers when she was being watched by snotty know-it-all college student interns working for the school district. (I still remember the 19 year-old tool who, when told that Schuyler needed to be encouraged to use her device, disagreed and backed up his position with "I am a psychology major...")
As much as she must love hanging out in the office with her forty year-old father, she's missing her school friends and it's beginning to show. We keep trying to arrange play dates with some of her AAC classmates, but everyone's busy during the summer (what is this word "vacation" of which you speak?) so it's hard to put together. She's got her cousins and a few neurotypical kids that she sees now and then, but I think that as much fun as she has, it still serves as a reminder of her brokenness, and as an eight year-old, she's not as in love with being different as she might have been once.
We've been trying to learn a new word in sign language every day, and she's shown some excitement for that. I think part of her enthusiasm has come from the fact that I've been letting her choose the words, which has led to such useful words for everyday use as "robot" and "bat" (on the day The Dark Knight opened, and no, I didn't take her to see it). Now that she's beginning to enjoy learning new words, we may start trying to sneak some useful ones in from time to time. Not that "robot" isn't a solid daily vocabulary tool.
The Big Box of Words remains her primary form of communication, however, or at least our main focus. One way of firing up her enthusiasm for it has been to add things to it that she and I say when we're teasing each other, which is, well, pretty often. We already added a little rhyme from my childhood that I taught her a while back to say when people eyeball her in public, so her device will now say "Stare stare, booger bear. Take a picture, I don't care." (When she's old enough, perhaps she'll replace it with "What are you looking at, assmonkey?") At lunch yesterday (at a Mexican restaurant, naturally), she asked me to add "Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot." Clearly, I am a fine, fine influence on my child. Her teachers are going to be so proud.
Speaking of which, last week Schuyler wanted to use her device to call me a "monkey fart" (honestly, I don't know why Julie teaches her these horrible things), and lo and behold, the Big Box of Words did not have the word "fart" programmed into it. You can probably see where this is going.
Twenty minutes later, Schuyler had a new subdirectory on the BBoW listing words associated with, well, bodily functions. Say what you will about the beauty of language and creating an appropriate and enriching environment for a child, but come on. An eight year old who can't say "fart" or "burp" or "booger" is not a complete human.
And honestly, just assigning icons to her new words made it all worthwhile.
Did I mention that I'm the keynote speaker at a professional educators' conference? I did.