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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: Superhero Brave

Monday, September 23, 2013

Superhero Brave

For those of you familiar with my blog, I've spoke of "Ben" before. A little boy on my school caseload from a Spanish speaking family who has CAS and is nonverbal. However, IQ testing shows him in the 75th percentile! He's sooo smart. I met him last year in Kindergarten, and we formed an instant bond.

His Kindergarten teacher was frustrated that he wouldn't talk; and I'm not sure if she felt it was a reflection on her, but she really wasn't that supportive of him. 

This year is different! He has a new teacher and she sees what I see, what I saw. She's sees a smart, friendly, lovable little boy who wants to talk, but just needs people to believe in him and boost his confidence. Every time I see her she starts a sentence with, "you won't believe this" or "I LOVE him." Yesterday she told me she believes this year is going to be HIS year. Starting from the first day when she was going around having kids do introductions, she frowned upon getting to Ben and having the other children speak up and say, "Oh he doesn't talk." She immediately stuck up for him, telling the other children yes he did talk and that people talk in different ways. Some use Spanish, some English, some use their hands, some use gestures, and some use devices. 

Ben's corners of his mouth got just a little bit wider.

Another day, one of the kids noticed that Ben appeared to be talking to the class frog and remarked, "Look! I think Ben is talking!"
Her reply?
"Of course he's talking! Didn't I tell you Ben talks?"

Ben's chest puffed out just a little bit further.

And then there was today. The icing on the cake.  I picked him up and she calls me over to brag about an assignment he finished first and attempted to share with the class. Picking up on her hint, I praised him loudly in front of the other children. As we leave the too, a little classmate returning from the bathroom enthusiastically called, "Bye Ben!" Now Ben knows how to say bye with perfect clarity. In fact, he says it to me everyday. He pressed his lips together, but the anxiety was too much and the boy left before Ben uttered a sound. I decided to scratch the lesson plan for that day, and instead I asked him if he knew what brave meant.

I had him draw a picture of someone he thought was brave and I told him I would do the same. We sat at different tables, and I told him not to peek.

When he was finished, he drew a picture of Hulk and Captain America. I asked him why they were brave and with a smile he pantomined strength and then pantomined a sword motion. I verified he thought they were brave because they were strong and had swords to which he eagerly nodded his affirmation. I then wrote on the back that Hulk and Captain America are brave because they are strong, have swords, and I added they fight bad guys. He tapped my arm and held up three fingers. I said, "three bad guys?" to which he nodded apparently satisfied. 

He then pointed to my picture. I asked him if he wanted to see mine and he again nodded yes. As he looked at a picture of a little boy with a blue school uniform, he looked at me puzzled. I asked him, "Don't you know who this is?" Ironically, I had also just happened to also draw him holding a sword fighting a word bubble in his head! What luck!
"It's you Ben." 
His eyes lit up and he pointed to himself incredulously. 
"Yes" I said. "You are my superhero because even though talking is so scary, you still try, and that's what makes you brave." 

Now that smile was a full blown grin.

I went onto tell him I needed him to be even more brave than he already was though. I needed him to be superhero brave when it's time to talk. We then stapled the pages and walked back to class.

At the end of the day, the Facebook support group had convinced me to tell his parents about the lesson; and since they only spoke Spanish, I decided to go out with the teacher at dismissal and have her translate. When I walked in the classroom, all the kids were sitting on the carpet with their backpacks on their backs in preparation to go home.  In the middle was Ben, with his backpack on, but our book in his lap. It did mean something to him!  As luck would have it, BOTH parents came to pick him up that day.  As the teacher translated, his mother choked up and gave him a big hug as they left to go home.

Now his chest was puffed out just about as far as it go!  That's what superhero brave is all about!

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