Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Conversation


It was one of the severe special ed classes. Lunch time.

While the kiddos were at lunch, their instructional aides were out supervising. But the aides get a lunch, too, so there's a bit of a juggle. They have to find time for their lunch (usually during class time) while making sure the class is manned.

As the teacher, my lunch is when the kiddos go to lunch.

However, there was Jason. Jason was non verbal and confined to a wheelchair. He was fed through a tube by his one-on-one aide a couple times that day. He could not be left alone.

Jason's one-on-one took her lunch before the actual lunch so she could be back while the other aides were out supervising lunch. But, because of time constraints, there was a small gap of about five minutes (normally, but this was a block schedule day, so the gap was more like ten) where Jason didn't have supervision. On a normal day, the teacher took over for that time.

If it was normally the teacher's job, then on this day it was mine.

I was warned to watch out for seizures and told who to go to if something went terribly wrong. As the one-on-one would be back shortly, we didn't think I'd have to worry about that. And then it was just Jason and me.

It was technically my lunch, so I pulled out my phone. But Jason was there. He wasn't furniture.

What does one say to a non verbal kiddo, though? I'm not great at small talk, and my general conversations wouldn't be of interest to the boy. I'm more of the listen-while-someone-else-talks kind of girl.

So, I did what I usually do when I have a bit of time during the school day. I looked through my Instagram. As I did so, I tried to find some things that maybe Jason would find interesting. I didn't think he'd find the knitting and crochet projects (the majority of my feed) all that fascinating, so I apologized for not having much to show him.

It wasn't the most scintillating talk. I made some random comments about the day and such. Because, I couldn't not talk to him. That just felt wrong, somehow.

The one-on-one was surprised to find me and Jason alone. Apparently subs don't watch Jason. I don't see why not. But, I guess I just assume I'm going to be doing that sort of thing when I cover these classes.

19 comments:

  1. So who would have watched him if you didn't? I tend to run on in conversations so I would have been perfectly fine talking with Jason. He probably would have tuned me out (assuming he could) after the first few sentences. Of course I have to say, I'd be concerned wondering if he would have a seizure or some other thing I couldn't be of benefit with and would be hoping "relief" would be on the way soon because I'm just not equipped to handle things like this and would worry I would do something wrong to hurt him.

    betty

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  2. Instagram...you can always find something there to talk about.

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    1. Sort of. There was a photo of a local celebrity otter that died. That was really the best I could do.

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  3. This one touched me. My niece, Marissa is non verbal, in a wheelchair and experiences seizures. It was kind of you to attempt to interact Jason. It made me think of how Marissa might spend her days.

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  4. Kudos on your efforts! I'd have been a nervous wreck. It worried me when a neighbor forced his healthy child on me to watch while he took care of some minor emergency. Well done, my dear.

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    1. Healthy children are harder. They like constant stimulation, so you have to run after them...

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  5. Awesome of you for talking to him and trying to include him in trying to find things he might be interested in. I have been around disabled children and its not easy to do anything but just talk to them but that fear is being alone with them for fear of something going wrong. Teach...you did good!!!

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    1. I don't know about that. It wasn't like I had to watch him for hours.

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  6. Sounds like you did an excellent job. Possibly being boring is a lot less offensive than not treating him like a person.

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  7. you need to learn some magic for next time.

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  8. Glad you could find something to bond over.

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    1. I don't think he was really that into my Insta feed...

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  9. My husband worked as an aide in a Severely Special Ed classroom for a year. I don't know how to handle that situation, but I can imagine him just talking about nothing to any kid who couldn't answer back.

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    1. Then he knows exactly what I speak of. He would have done a much better job with Jason than I did.

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  10. Hi Liz - I'm just glad you spent time with Jason ... it must be so difficult for him and he needs all the encouragement and motivation for something interesting to engage him. Well done - cheers Hilary

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  11. I spent a couple of years in one of those classrooms. I taught. I did their physical therapy. Took care of bathroom needs. It was a challenging gig.

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    1. I'm sure. I'm glad I only do this sort of thing occasionally.

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  12. Very nice of you to have done what you did. Sometimes, there is no need to talk, being just there, a smile and eye contact are so reassuring and comforting.

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