Yesterday I meant to write a nice post reminiscing about good school memories. But apparently I had some ranty rage that needed to get out instead. So here we go with attempt number two: Its been a tough year with lots of kids on my caseload, lots of evaluations, lots of kids transferring in from other schools, and lots more behaviour issues than I usually have to deal with. All year I've felt like I've been trying to herd squirrels. I'm exhausted and ready for summer... but .... there have also been some pretty good times and some good memories as well.
- A couple of my kids this year have a thing with scents. One of them loves the way my hand lotion smells. He noticed it one day when I'd put some on just before his session. Now, at some point during each session, he will grab my hand, smash it against his face and take a big whiff. It somehow always takes me by surprise and always makes me laugh (silent laughter of course - this is not behaviour I want to reinforce, or have him generalize to his other teachers or peers!). My other student can tell when I've eaten something chocolate. He leans close and says "let me smell", trying to sniff my breath. It would be super uncomfortable if he wasn't so oblivious to the weirdness of smelling people's breath. Well... ok - so its still kind of uncomfortable, but it also makes me laugh (again - silently). To keep him at a socially acceptable distance, I'll sometimes oblige by blowing my gross chocolate stinky breath on his face. Which makes him happy, and makes me feel like his big sister instead of his SLP. But we are cool like that, I guess.
- One of my students started the year not speaking a word. He's been dealing with learning english as a second language as well as working on a significant language disorder. In the past few months, though, his language has really started to take off, and he has started to take exception to the nickname I use with him (and all my students). "My name is NOT Kiddo!" he reminds me, each time I forget. My apologies, Kiddo. It wont happen again.
- There is something so great about working with kids on the autism spectrum and the way they express their curiosity. Recently, on a day when i was wearing a scarf as a headband, one of my students asked me if I'd had head surgery (?!). When I said "nooooo?" he then asked why I was wearing a cast on my head... We then had a nice little chat about accessories and how you can tell the difference between a scarf and a cast. I love the absurdity and the earnest curiosity of these conversations.
- I use a point system to encourage good listening & participation during each session. When we are done, the students can earn up to 3 points depending on their behaviour, which they then tally up on a dry-erase chart until they earn enough for a prize. One day after one student had left, I noticed she had written "I LOVE YOU" next to her point system. awe. Love notes from 7 year olds are the best.
- And in the same vein, I recently was trying to motivate one of my students to do a little better on his goals. He's really close to 'graduating' from speech and just needs to be a little better at self-monitoring before this can happen. As I was trying to explain this to him, using graduation as a dangling carrot, he stopped me to say "but I don't want to stop coming! I like having speech with you!". Which warms my heart, but is also exasperating since now I have to start being mean to him just so he will practice!
1.5 more days til summer, and it feels like a long time coming. But I'll be back in the fall ready to see these little guys again. I feel super lucky to have the job I do. And lucky to have these small people in my life. Here's to sticking it out when grad school and depression felt like synonymous terms and to this happy light at the end of that very dark and dreary tunnel.