Chapters 19, 20, and 21

Chapter 19

In this chapter Melody discusses the time that she spends thinking of new things to say with her device. This certainly made me think of how often we speak without thinking and how Melody does not have this ability – or is THAT a disability that WE have? Melody does mention not appreciating when people talk “about” her. This is so important that we include our students  in conversations about their abilities and progress – who knows what they might like to contribute. Melody spends much of this chapter focusing on the love and support of Mrs. V and her family. She knows her family loves her and believes in her, it’s the rest of the world she is worried about. This statement at the end of the chapter made me think of all the ways our students feel they must “prove” themselves to others when at school, this includes proving themselves to us as teachers. May we give them opportunities to show us what they know rather than challenging what they don’t.

Chapter 20

The interactions with Mr. D really stuck out in my mind from this chapter. These highlighted the ways in which so many people make assumptions about Melody’s abilities, as well as the way people who don’t believe in her abilities make her feel. I certainly hope that my students feel that I have confidence in their ability to learn and communicate. At the end of the Quiz Team tryouts I felt like Mr. D tried to be nice to Melody and maybe even redeem himself for initially suggesting she didn’t belong. Unfortunately, his comment about “you might want to wipe your mouth” showed a lack of compassion. I can think of so many ways that this situation could have been approached to preserve her dignity – would I have approached it that way? Do I encourage? Do I believe in the abilities of my students instead of the disabilities?

Chapter 21

Yay! Melody Made the Quiz Team – and… that is the only happy thing about this chapter. The kids are mean and say “what will people think of us?” and they mock Melody. A time when Melody should be so proud of her accomplishment becomes so sad. She does discuss some dignity issues in this chapter and the dependence on others to use the bathroom throughout the day. These care needs are described as if they are at the front of her mind throughout the day and trips to the bathroom at school are dreaded experiences for Melody.  At the end of the chapter when the other students in the inclusion classroom are being unkind, she simply says “go” to communicate that she wants to leave. As much as I want Melody to “have the last word” per say – sometimes words are just not enough. This does leave me thinking about how I make others feel. Do my actions suggest I think less of someone’s abilities because of the way they look or a physical disability?

–Dala Sparks

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7 thoughts on “Chapters 19, 20, and 21

  1. Rachel Lacap says:

    When melody is thinking of words and phrases to put into her device, it made me think of how many times I have looked back on conversations and thought, “man, I should have said THIS!” It’s wonderful that melody can take the time to think of important and age appropriate responses.

  2. Amanda Piekarski says:

    So appropriate I read these chapters on the day I witnessed 2 interactions with a student I work with (who has limited verbal interactions).
    1) Another student (who has his own academic challenges) asked me if I know ‘P’. I stated I did and we had a little conversation about him where I pointed out a lot of his awesome qualities. When I stated he was a great reader, the student gave me a skeptical look (remember, this student rarely speaks). So I mentioned this to one of the assistants in the classroom and she shared that they had library together later in the day. The next day, the questioning student saw me in the hall and nearly fell over exclaiming what an awesome reader ‘P’ is…he just needed the opportunity to experience it!!
    2) ‘P’ walked through a group of 5th grade boys playing basketball (literally through their game). They stopped the ball and yelled “Hey P” while patting him on the back. So sweet! ‘P’ continued on his way 🙂

    I saw these experiences as opportunities to ‘show off’ and also acceptance. Things I hope Melody experiences more of.

  3. I think the teacher’s responses to Melody are so much more frustrating than the kids. An educator should know better than to make comments like that, especially in front of the students. But then, I think am I right to throw stones? Have I never made judgments about a child’s ability? Have I ever been a little too surprised when a child has gotten a question correct that I would have assumed him not know? I guess we all have faults, but it is still very hard to see a child made to feel so small by a teacher that should know better. It seems that he just has not paid much attention to Melody since she has been in his classroom.

  4. Pam Schmit says:

    Note that in Chapter 20, Melody mentioned that she could have TOLD her mom that she shouldn’t wear her white shirt on “try-out” day. She “forgot” that she could actually tell her mom something. Just something to think about. It takes awhile to get used to your mode of communication when it changes! And about Mr. D’s comment, maybe that can be a reminder to us that as SLPs, sometimes we can help both clients and adults/teachers by approaching adults/teachers and making suggestions about dealing with delicate issues like drooling. People who do not usually deal with handicapped individuals often don’t know what to say or how to say it.

  5. Dala Sparks says:

    Forgetting to tell her mom what she would like to wear also makes me think of the importance of inquiring about the opinions of our students. Even when it takes them longer to communicate their thoughts – they certainly have opinions about important things, including what they wear, we should inquire more and provide them with an opportunity to communicate information they are passionate about.

  6. Karen Reynolds says:

    I don’t consciously think of kids’ abilities versus their disabilities. It made me think that this is the better way to go. It is like instead of apologizing, start with thank you! It just makes sense. When we focus on abilities, we make a more positive impact. In chapter 18, when Melody thinks “we all have disabilities, what’s yours?” it really hit home. Mr. Brooks did not believe that Melody was as smart of she was just because she was non-verbal and in a wheelchair. He did not even consider her abilities over her disabilities.

  7. Jecel Goyala says:

    Melody’s immediate and extended family bond together to help her succeed. This underscores the importance of all the adults in her life who see her potential.Melody’s family is incredibly important because they give her strength and confidence, especially when the rest of the world doesn’t think she’s capable of anything.

    Melody performs well on the test because she is smart and because she studied. Once again, by trying to protect her feelings, Mr. Dimming accidentally insults Melody, suggesting that he doesn’t think she’s smart enough to take the test, to get on the team, or to deal with rejection.

    For the first time, Mr. Dimming acknowledges Melody’s intelligence. Unfortunately, Melody legitimately earning a spot on the team does not make her teammates less skeptical of her abilities or ready to embrace her as belonging to the Whiz Kids.Melody’s tornado outburst emphasizes the way Melody is and is not like her classmates. She is like them because she is smart, driven, and now a member of the Whiz Kids team, but she still has her disability, and her lack of bodily control separates her from her peers.

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