I could easily vent about the happenings at school (again with the, "Why can't you just come to work and do your job like the rest of the grown-ups in the world?" with a dose of "Writing With Symbols, please cooperate just this once), and Aide T has been kindly comisserating with me over email -- a fact that, I fear, would not go over well if other people knew about it...
I got distracted there.
What I wanted to say was that this was all overshadowed by one of those tiny shining moments that make your heart swell with pride and go "Yeeee-haw!"
Elastigirl, as you may have guessed from reading this blog, has some pretty significant delays. She has some challenging behaviors and a lot of obstacles to overcome.
That said, I adore the girl.
Anyway, she spent several years of her education either left to her own devices or forcibly moved to "quiet areas" and left alone. It took my staff -- chiefly Aide T -- and myself about 6 weeks last year just to convince her that we wanted her to sit with us, and that she should sit with the rest of the group.
Today, we were doing a group lesson -- our whole school uses the Second Step program, and I've been doing modified versions of the fourth grade lessons. However, with this group, I've had to mix it up a bit.
First, I have PECs pictures of feelings and we go through them in a sort of game-like format. Every kid gets four "Turn" cards -- four chances to be right, then they can't answer any more -- and I'll hold up a feeling. Anyone who knows can raise their hand, then I pick someone to answer (usually via eenie-meenie-miney-moe).
So, today, I hold up "frustrated."
Seven hands go up.
I start eenie-meenie-miney-moing, intending to...ahem...accidentally land on Superhero, because I know he knows that one, when, lo and behold...
...wait for it...
ELASTIGIRL'S HAND SHOOTS UP WITH THE REST OF THEM.
I stare at her.
She's not really following natural cues and imitating her classmates, is she?
That would be too huge. No way. It was a fluke.
Still, I go over, present "frustrated" and the blank back of a card as a distracter, and say, "Elastigirl, where's 'frustrated'?"
She picks it. The class claps for her. She preens.
We go on, me still thinking it was a happy fluke that I had the chance to reinforce.
A few turns later, I hold up "excited."
Seven hands go up.
THEN, LO AND BEHOLD, UP GOES ONE MORE!
That's twice, in one day.
I go over to Elastigirl, who had since put her hand down, and look at her. I raise my hand. The rest of my monkey-see-monkey-do kiddos follow me.
Elastigirl does not look at me. She looks at Superhero and Angel. She thinks. She looks at Superhero again.
AND HER HAND GOES UP AGAIN!
I realize that for those of you wno do not deal with kids with severe cognitive impairments, the idea of a 10-year-old girl looking at her classmates and copying them is not a big thing.
For Elastigirl, this is like figuring out the Theory of Relativity.
It still may have been a fluke...but it was THREE times...and if she can do it three times today, she'll be able to do it again...on her own timetable, of course.