Chapters 151 and 157

First, I must say, these chapters were an unexpected turn I did not expect to read in this story. Christopher is home alone and begins searching for the book he was writing, which his father had thrown away when he was mad. Christopher looks in a few sensible places, and then decides to take on another “detective” duty to search other places before his father arrives home, all the while listening intently for his father’s van to pull up outside. His search takes him from the kitchen to the den and into his father’s cupboard. Underneath a toolbox, Christopher finds a shirt box. He opens the box, and is happy to find that his book has not been destroyed, but is hidden inside. Then he hears his father arrive home, so he processes what to do next. Deciding to leave the book in the shirt box, he notices some letters with his name and address. Lucky for him, he is not caught when his father yells up the stairs.

6 days later, on a Monday night, Christopher is at home alone again and able to access the letters addressed to him as his father is out on an emergency maintenance call. Christopher takes out the first letter revealing to readers that the handwriting on the letter could only belong to three people, one of which is his mother. He opens and reads the letter that details his mother moving into a new place. Christopher, still being a detective, finds the postmark date on the envelope and calculates the date as 18 months after his mother was gone. So then he opens another letter, reads the contents. He opens 4 letters total before everything goes a blur. He wakes up to the sound of his father’s van pulling up, he sees that he has gotten sick all over, and is confused. His father comes to him and at first is not happy.

In her letter, Christopher’s mother explains why she left, in that Christopher’s father was much more patient and she observed them to get along well without her. Christopher’s father in the moment demonstrates his patience and level-headedness when responding to the situation. He calmly explains to Christopher, asks to see if he is OK, draws him a bath, and then helps him clean himself up.

I feel so bad for Christopher’s father and for Christopher. I am curious to find out how Christopher will accept this news. How will he respond to a change in something he has accepted as reality? (His mother having moved away with another man, rather than having passed away.) How do you think Christopher will handle the situation? Do you think he will seek out someone to talk with? If so, who? Do you think Christopher will want to visit his mother? or write her a letter? I imagine this situation is so difficult for their family. Now it makes even more sense as to why his father was so livid with Christopher for continuing the detective work. Not solely because of his physical safety, but also because of hiding the whereabouts of Christopher’s mother behind a lie.

 

  • Katie Cohen

Chapter 149

In this chapter Siobham asked Christopher why he had a bruise on his face. When Christopher was asked if his father had hit him he said he didn’t know because after he was grabbed on his arm his “memory had gone strange” when he was angry. Christopher said it is ok to grab someone’s arm or shoulder unless you are already in a fight in which you can hit someone. Christopher said he was not scared to go home and he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. After school, Christopher looked for his book in the dustbin, outside and around the house. He finally found a box in his father’s room where he found his book. He decided not to take because his father would notice and he would start a new book. When he lifted the book he saw several envelopes addressed to him. The handwriting was the same as his mom. His father got home so he hid the envelope under his mattress and read it after dinner. The letter was from his mom who lived in London and worked as a Secretary for a steel company. She said she was sorry she left and thought he hadn’t written because he was still angry. Christopher was confused because the letter said it was from 18 months after she died. He thought maybe someone else wrote it or it was for another Christopher. He decided he would put the letter back under his mattress and look at the other letters from the box the next day and try to figure out this new mystery.

–Abby Ramser

Tech Tuesday

Tessa Sturgeon shares:

I have loved using the iPad provided by WHAS Crusade for Children in therapy with my students. All of my speech and language games from Super Duper and Linguisystems are great, but nothing gets a kid motivated like technology! Here are some apps I’ve been using and loving:

Word Vault Pro

This is a pretty straightforward app I use mostly for articulation, although there are options for Language and Social Pragmatics. I like it for my older students because it has simple lists of target words and they like making up sentences with the words. It’s not the same words I see over and over with other games either, so there is a little bit of variety. There’s also a couple fun game options, one that includes searching for the picture of their target word while pictures float on the screen, which keeps my students engaged for almost an entire session!

Caveman Time Machine Basic Concepts

This is great for all of my younger students who have basic concept goals. There are 3 options to choose from (Ancient Egypt, Old West, and The Future). There are a variety of picture scenes to choose from within those options. Touching any object in the picture will prompt the app to describe what basic concept is happening. After playing with the picture scene, students can take a concepts quiz to show what they’ve learned from the picture scenes. Great for my kindergarteners and 1st graders!

Following Directions

There are 4 categories within this app and I use all of them: One step directions drag and drop, Two step directions choose from 4 pictures, Inclusion/Exclusion choose from 6 pictures, Motor-skill based and conditional directions. This app gives more opportunities for a variety of directions and switches it up more than me randomly giving 2 step directions I can think of off the top of my head or using one of my games to have a student point to things in a picture I’ve shown them.

A big thank you to WHAS Crusade for donating iPads to the SLPs to JCPS! This has been a very helpful tool for my therapy.

Collaborative Teams for Students with Severe Disabilities Integrating Therapy and Educational Services

I read this book over the summer to receive PD credit.  Initially, I was skeptical because the copyright was 1997.  I thought, there is no way this information will be relevant today.  I could not have been more wrong.  The first thing that struck me was that we are still facing the same obstacles and beliefs about Collaborative Therapy today as we were in 1997.  That was 21 years ago people!!  The changes that we are making today in the school systems and the freedom that we now have to serve our students as a related service make complete sense!  It is time to get on board and service our students as a whole.  The traditional approach of pull out services are a thing of the past.  It lacks reality and carryover into the classroom and community.    

 

Related services focus on integrating occupational, behavioral, cognitive, physical and speech therapy services in the context of educational programs.  These services must directly support a child’s special education program.  We have always known that OTs support the educational setting and tie into the ECE goals.  There is no question that what they do is a related service and is collaborative with all staff involved.  This approach allows for teachers and assistants to learn, ask questions and make suggestions that support the student in real time, real situations.  I know that as an SLP in an elementary school, I have been guilty of taking my small groups into the resource room, closing the door and never knowing the impact that I am having on their learning.  It is more than data points and graphs.  Our knowledge of speech and language development/disorders is immense, but it means nothing if we don’t support students and teach staff members how to utilize what we do into the classroom.  As quoted from the text, “The culture of isolation decreases the risk taking and personal responsibility that are necessary to adopt innovations.”  The book outlines many concerns/fears that we as SLPs have if we make this type of change.  Collaboration theraapy treats the person as a whole with an understanding that all the needs of a student are interrelated.  

 

An area that I think most of us could work on is role release (or maybe it is just me!).  Often we think that because we have the title of SLP, we are the best ones to service impaired language skills.  The reality is, we need to integrate our techniques, educate others and release the SOLE responsibility of confining our students in the resource room.  I think we could all agree that we would not feel adequate initiating treatment for fine motor or gross motor skills without the advice of an OT or PT.  It doesn’t mean however that we ignore those areas when we are treating the students individually.  Role release allows us the ability to help one another as professionals to get the most out of treatment.  

 

When I thought of collaboration in the past, I only thought of staff working together.  Reading this book made me realize how important parental involvement is.  Every IEP that we develop, should involve parental/guardian input.  Trust me, I realize that not every parent shows up to every meeting and sometimes, there is no number to be found to even reach them.  But when a guardian IS present in the IEP meeting, we need to take every opportunity to be sure that they are an active participant.  Many times we meet with parents of a different race, culture and educational background than the majority of the panel.  We use professional jargon and speak too quickly.  Although we would welcome their input, at times I don’t think we give them enough credit or make them feel comfortable enough to speak their minds (see Table 3.1 and figure 4.2 in the attached documents).  (If you would like to check this out–let the speech office know and we can send you the book. We can’t post it here due to copyright laws)

 

Assessment was addressed as well using a transdisciplinary approach.  We have all fallen into those sesssions where the child will not respond to anything on a standardized assessment due to definance or the inability due to cognitive/motor, etc restrictions.  Transdisciplinary approach using play assessement is more timely and positive for the student/parents involved.  Discipline specific tests tend to define what a child can and can’t do in a very unnatural setting.  Attached below are general assessment guidelines, sensory systems and other suggestions for non verbal communicators.  

 

The question is….how do we implement this into our therapy schedules???  The book suggests block scheduling and to mark minutes per month 240 minutes per month on IEP as opposed to 30 min 2x weekly.  That way you spend longer blocks with the student(s) when needed throughout the school year.  Clearly, when making your schedule you should be aware of which IEP goals you will target and what part of the day would be most successful.  I feel like this is a wonderful opportunity for us as SLPs to finally feel like we are part of the school community and finally feel like we CAN make a difference!  Students will meet their goals!!  I am not saying this will be easy, but we won’t know if we don’t try!!  

 

(Remember, this applies to speech as a related service in students with severe disabilities–don’t stress do your best!)

 

–Courtney Brock

Chapter 139: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night

Summary: This chapter begins as Christopher explains he likes the character Sherlock Holmes, but not the author of the series, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His dislike is because of Doyle’s belief that one could communicate with the dead. Doyle’s belief in the supernatural stems from the loss of his son during the First World War (of influenza-speaking of, it’s time to get those shots!) and his desire to communicate with him. Later in life, Doyle joined the Spiritualist Society in order to reach beyond the grave. Christopher goes on to relay the 1917 tale of The Case of the Cottingley Fairies. Two cousins claimed to play with fairies by a stream and captured their images on camera. It was later revealed, by an expert in fake photography, that the cousins had drawn them on paper and set them up with pins. Christopher says the expert, Harold Snelling, was being “stupid”. He stated Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also being “stupid” because he came out in support of the faries being real. When the twins were interviewed in 1981, they shared conflicting information regarding the pictures. One stated they were all fake, while the other claimed 4 out of 5 were fake. Christopher believes this shows that sometimes people want to be stupid and they do not want to know the truth. It further illustrates a principle known as Occam’s razor, which means, “No more things should be presumed to exist than are absolutely necessary.” Christopher ends with a statement about this book/chapter relating to Occam’s razor, “a murder victim is usually killed by someone known to them and fairies are made out of paper and you can’t talk to someone who is dead.”

 

Application: It seems logical (to me) that Christopher doesn’t buy into the “talking to the dead, supernatural mumbo jumbo.” I could see where that would be an unbelievable concept to someone with ASD. In further exploring Occam’s razor, I found an explanation that was more simply stated, “the simplest solution tends to be the right one.” Sometimes, I feel our students choose the most complicated route to solve a problem, when there is actually a much easier solution.  It IS true a murder victim is usually killed by someone they know (l listen to a lot of true crime podcasts!). We learn Wellington is murdered by someone he knew (cue sinister music). The tone I felt from this chapter is that Christopher is a little fed up…”you’re stupid and you’re stupid. Can’t you just see the truth (i.e, my way)!” I know I have had students on the spectrum who feel they are always right and everyone else is wrong. They are often unable to see the “gray” and only in black and white. Have you seen the same with your student’s who are on the spectrum?

–Kathy McKenzie-Hensley

Chapters 131 and 137

Chapter 131

The chapter opens with Christopher explaining why he does not like the colors yellow and brown. The reasons for not liking yellow include: custard, bananas (and the fact they also turn brown), double yellow lines, yellow fever (and he gives very specific details about the disease), yellow flowers because he gets hayfever from flower pollen and it makes him feel ill, and sweet corn because you don’t digest it so that must mean you aren’t meant to eat it.

The reasons he does not like the color brown include it is the color of dirt, gravy, poo, wood (because it breaks down, will rot and sometimes has worms in it), and because it is the last name of a girl at school who tore his astronaut painting into two pieces and threw it away.

Christopher then explains that Mrs. Forbes said hating brown and yellow is “just being silly”. He acknowledges Mrs. Forbes was a bit right because it is sort of being silly but says in life you have to make decisions and it is good to have a reason for why you like some things and not others. He makes the comparison to being at a restaurant and looking at a menu and having to choose between foods even though you haven’t tasted the food. He then explains you have favorite foods you know you like and so choose from those.

Application: Christopher states his reasons for not liking these colors and it seems (to me) his impression is that it is clearly apparent based on reasoning. He gives multiple reasons why he doesn’t like these colors. His reference to that “it might be sort of silly” acknowledges that he is trying to make sense of what others have said (Mrs. Forbes) despite his own reasoning that he finds as being sound. I think of our students who have their own reasoning behind certain thoughts and their attempt to balance this with what others have told them.

Chapter 137

This chapter opens with Christopher stating his father apologized for hitting him and that he cleaned it to make sure it wasn’t infected. Christopher states they are going on an expedition since it is Saturday and so that his father can show him that he is properly sorry. They are going to the zoo and his father made him sandwiches to eat since he knows Christopher doesn’t like eating from places he doesn’t know. Although they are going on a Saturday, his father doesn’t think it will be busy since it is forecasted to rain. Christopher mentions he doesn’t like crowds and does like when it is raining. He had never been to this zoo and so states he didn’t have a picture of it in his head. They bought a guidebook and Christopher than lists his favorite animals (included a spider monkey, the Patagonian sea lions, and an orangutan. While at the café eating, his father tell Christopher that he loves him very much, worries about him, and doesn’t want to see him getting hurt. His dad asks Christopher if he knows he loves him and Christopher says yes and gives reasons that make sense to him of how he knows this. The place their hands and fingers together, go look at the giraffes and then went home before the roads got busy.

In this chapter, Christopher’s father seems to try and make up for his behavior in a way Christopher may understand better than just using words but also perhaps to make himself feel better and try to rid himself of guilt for hitting Christopher. This makes me think of all the parents of the students I see and their efforts to try and communicate with their children in the way they seem to understand best. I think this chapter illustrates how Christopher’s father is dealing with the stress of parenting a child with a disability alone as well as brings about how Christopher has difficulty with expressing how he feels about his father’s actions.

–Sarah Niemann

Tech Tuesday

Christy Chesnut shares:

As far as the ipad goes, I’ve used it in several ways.  One, being app access.  Second, online games and activities.

Apps:

I’ve mainly used free apps but have a few I like. 

Following Directions by HearBuilder has a decent tour option and separates directions by concept (spatial, temporal, conditional, etc.).  I don’t have access to all the levels but like the ones I’ve tried.  This is one I might buy in the future. 

I also like Autism iHelp.  This app has great, real-life pictures and addresses all wh-questions at varying levels.  You only get access to a few with the free version, but I’ve been able to work on who, what, and when questions.  I purchased level one for 3.99 and have been pleased with it.  The questions incorporate basic object function, locations, etc. but also have questions pertaining to attributes.  They also have an option for mixed questions to ensure comprehension. 

Activities/Online Games:

My kids really like the online games.  I’ve found a couple different websites I like that offer games relating to main idea, synonyms/antonyms, and multiple meaning words.  Jeopardylabs.com and quia.com are my frequent fliers. 

 

Review of the book, Speech Language Pathology & Related Professions in the Schools By

This book was published in 1993, It was written to support new SLP grads in their role as part of

a multidisciplinary team in the school setting. The book has 13 chapters, each addressing a

component of providing speech therapy services in the school setting. Topics covered included:

● Integrating speech language programs into the school curriculum.

● The law and the school professional

● Audiology

● Education of deaf/hard of hearing

● Special education teachers

● Psychological assessment

● Learning disabilities

● PT and OT in the schools

● The multidisciplinary team

● Common health problems in the school

● Communicating with parents and teachers

Each chapter was written by a relevant professional, ie. the Audiology chapter was written by an

audiologist. The chapters gave a broad overview of the topic and it’s role in the student’s school

plan.

In reviewing this book, I found the following components of this book advantageous:

● Some chapters discussed specific disabling conditions and characteristics that may

impact the communication skills.

● Suggestion lists for working with different populations.

● Tips on how and why to communicate with parents/teachers.

● It’s a handy resource with brief overviews of MANY issues one may encounter as a new

SLP.

The concept of this book is excellent. A resource for new SLP’s as they begin providing services

as part of multidisciplinary team is a valuable tool to aid in developing a gestalt for the school

setting.

That being said, this book is older than some of our current SLP’s. Not only is there outdated

terminology (mentally retarded?!), the scope of services described for some disciplines are not

as broad as they currently are, and some of the medical information (regarding common health

problems….the biggest section was on AIDS).

And for the part everyone has been waiting for…..application. Is there a takeaway for the

current SLP in 2018? I will share the timeless information that resonated most with me is

regarding open communication with parents. Tips shared included:

1. Utilize effective helping. In a nutshell – it’s the old saying, teach a man to fish and he’ll

eat for life.

2. Assume a positive and proactive stance or belief in the strengths of the parents. ***This

one is a biggie y’all.**** Read this one again. Chew on it for a minute.

3. Respect and honor the cultural diversity of families. Wowza – this is a huge focus for our

district this year. Let’s be less judgey as SLP’s when we talk about our students names

and nicknames. Those are cultural things. Let’s not be judgey about some families who

wean their children later as part of a cultural practice.

4. Be an active listener. If you can do this, then you won’t have to try as hard for #2.

5. Make your meeting locations a comfortable environment. We don’t have a ton of control

here….but we can make sure the parents get the comfortable chairs. We can have

tissues, pens and notepaper available.

6. Avoid professional distancing. This is something we all slide into….stop using so much

jargon. Stop speeding through reading reports and goals….this educational language is

like a foreign dialect to parents. We, as SLP’s, can and should model effective

communication during IEP’s AND advocate for parents when it appears they are lost.

7. Use positive non-verbal communication. Enough said.

8. Use open-ended questions. Tell me about…..Explain how…..Tell me more….

9. Provide appropriate written materials. Written in parent friendly terms

10. Prepare systematically for meetings with parents. Plan what you will say, the data you

will share.

11. Develop methods to communicate with families based on their preferences. E-mail?

Communication notebook? Texting?

–Chelsea Graham

 

Chapters 109 and 111

Chapter 109

 

Finally we have a clue to who the famous Siobhan is!  This whole time I have not been able to figure out how to pronounce her name and everytime I read it I would say it differently in my mind.  It’s pretty ironic because she has been a mystery in the book until now…is she a student (no Ms. or Miss)…. an adult friend…SLP maybe…who is she?  The first real clue of her real identity comes when the author writes about her having a cup of coffee (ok…I assume an adult) and sitting at the playground “with the other teachers.”  Bingo! She’s a teacher at his school who seems to understand and relate to Christopher in ways others do not. He feels comfortable enough to talk to her about his personal life and intimate details such as his conversation with Mrs. Alexander in which he felt close enough to share with her.  She asks him questions to see what he will do and how he feels about finding out about his mother and Mr. Shear’s affair. He says he is not upset and always tell the truth. Siobhan then kind of educates Christopher on sad feelings and what others may feel or do to mask their sadness. She also tells him that he can always come and talk to her about it. He is lucky to have someone that has knowlwdge about Spectrum Disorders and can talk with him where he is.  Christopher thinks it’s stupid to feel sad about it because his mom is dead and Mr. Shears is gone…so it isn’t real and doesn’t exist in his mind.

 

Chapter 113

 

Christopher tells us his memory is like a film.  I started to think of the movie “Rainman” and Jeopardy being on at 7:30 and having to buy underwear at KMART…well we know what his brother thinks of KMART!  Back to Christopher…he says that he can “press” Rewind, Fast Forward, and Pause like a DVD player when people ask him to remember something. There are no buttons like a DVD player, but all memorized in his head.  He talks about an example of a holiday he took in 1992. He gives details of his mom. He can go into his DVR and remember what she was wearing, what she said, and even what book she was reading at the time. This memory leads into where the “hand thing” came from to connect and calm him down without too much human physical contact.  When his mom jumped backwards and disappeared into the ocean, Christopher started screaming thinking she was eaten by a shark. His mom stood back up, walked toward Christopher and held up her right hand up with her fingers spread like a fan. His mom asked him to listen to her, stop screaming, and touch her hand. After awhile, Christopher trusted her and touched her hand as his mom comforted him with words like, “It’s OK, Christopher.”  Here is the important part- he then felt better!

 

He then talks about how he does a “Search” through his memories to remember people and figure out how he is supposed to react in a certain situation based on past memories.  When figurative language is used or confusing situations happen, he goes back into his DVR and tries to figure out what that means or how he should react. He also talks of other people having pictures in their head as well, but these pictures aren’t real and didn’t happen.  Like when his mom was day dreaming aloud about if she didn’t marry his father and would be living in France in a farmhouse sipping red wine. That made no sense to him…it wasn’t real. Siobhan also shared what she does to calm herself when depressed to feel peaceful. Again…wasn’t real so what is the point.  The chapter ends with Chistopher talking about his Grandmother having pictures in her head, but they were confused, not in sequence, and did not make sense which leads me to think she has Dementia.

 

-Kim Raho

 

Chapter 127

In chapter 127, Christopher has just come home from school. He sets his belonging down in the kitchen, including his “detective book”, and continues on to watch some non-fiction TV. He remarks that he likes this particular show because he likes to imagine living in these deserted places, all alone. When Christopher’s father comes home, he says “howdy, partner”, trying to be funny, but Christopher simply responds with “Hello,” clearly not comprehending that his father’s attempt at humor should encourage him to be humorous in return. After this point, the crap hits the fan, so to speak (not that Christopher would understand that particular figurative language).

 

Christopher’s father goes into the kitchen and discovers the detective book, in which Christopher has documented all his conversations with neighbors and his work in trying to discover the dog’s killer. When Christopher’s dad comes in the room, he asks quietly (albeit with pretty harsh and vulgar language), what the book was. As Christopher states, his father was not yelling, so Christopher did not interpret his words as being angry. This is another instance where Christopher’s lack of social awareness and theory of mind have had a negative impact on his comprehension of conversations. Christopher answers his father’s questions truthfully and very “matter-of-fact” as he does not notice his father’s anger. It is not until his father raises his voice and grabs Christopher’s arm that Christopher realizes how his father is feeling. The more emotional Christopher becomes, the less he is able to answer his father’s questions and to understand the conversation. He does not like to be touched and does not like surprises, so he reacts almost instinctively and hits his father. The situation escalates and Christopher “blacks out” and does not remember much. He just knows time has passed by looking at his watch. Christopher likens his “blacking out” to being “switched off and switched back on”. After Christopher is “switched back on”, he analyzes the scene. Again, he is very descriptive about what he sees: his father breathing slowly and deeply, the book being bent and the edges torn, blood on his own hands, and a scratch on his father’s neck. His father leaves the room, throws the book in the trash (or so Christopher assumes), and returns into the room and states he needs a drink and gets a beer. Christopher can see all of this, but still does not seem to interpret the meaning behind his father’s reactions. He does not seem to understand that what occurred was volatile and emotionally and physically exhausting to his father. He makes no move to try to talk to his father or to even understand what happened when he was “switched off”. I see similar events happen very often with my students on the spectrum. They often times only hear the words, and lose the emotional meanings behind them. I see this a lot in their lack of understanding with sarcasm. I also have had students who have become physical when angry and after the incident, they say they cannot remember what happened.

–Rachel Lacap