Chapters 22, 23 and 24

Chapter 22

Poor Melody. All she wants to do is be “normal.” Even after making the team, she still feels like-and gets treated like-an outsider. The medi-talker does help her communicate, but when her peers engage in conversation, she’s not able to produce utterances quickly enough to keep up with their pace. I can only imagine how incredibly frustrating that must be. As an SLP, I have experienced this when I am having some of my AAC users participate in groups with their devices. The delays can seem excruciating sometimes. My hope is, that as the children age, they become quicker and more proficient at participating in conversation, but we all know there are limitations for many students, whether they be physical, cognitive or otherwise. I do love how Melody pre-programs comebacks for Claire’s snarky comments. As an educator, I can’t say that I would directly encourage a child to do this, however, I probably wouldn’t discourage a student from using them either, if I saw an interaction where it was justified. What do you all think?

Chapter 23

This Chapter opens on the day of the local competition and Melody is experiencing all the emotions that any student would in this situation…nerves, excitement and fear. When Paul, the stage manager, goes out of his way to accommodate Melody’s special needs, I had to think that as great as it made Melody feel, it was probably just as wonderful an experience for him to see a child similar to his own achieving such great things. Maybe it’ll impact him past that initial interaction to push his own child a little bit more than he has in the past. Just before the context starts, Melody hears another interaction between Claire and Molly that is disparaging toward her. These mean girls are a prime example of how I want my students and own children NOT to act, but I must applaud Melody for her ability to tune them out and not let their words and actions affect her performance or attitude.

Chapter 24

During this Chapter, the competition starts and the moderator makes a point of mentioning that Melody is a “special participant.” I have conflicted feelings about this. While I understand that she is perceived as “different,” I don’t think calling attention to this is at all necessary. Obviously, she felt embarrassed for being singled out, but again, being a rock star, she didn’t let it throw her off her game. Melody performs just as well-if not better-than her peers, and their team wins this round of the competition. I was happy to see glimpses of Mr. Dimming, Rose and Connor having positive and encouraging interactions with Melody as they waited for their next round of competition. She’s so witty and bright and I’m sure that if any of them got the time to truly know her, she’d be loved and cherished the same way that she is by Mrs. V and her family. It seems like Rose and Melody want to be friends, but each one has different factors that prevent them from fully engaging with one another-Rose is worried about what her typical peers may think, and Melody is afraid that Rose will judge her for her physical limitations and differences. I can only hope that as Melody matures, she will worry less about this and let her personality shine through. I love the lessons this book teaches and think it should be required reading in upper elementary and middle school grades. We have taught for years about cultural inclusivity, and have begun to embrace LGBT inclusivity in recent years. I think it’s time we start being more intentional about inclusion for people with disabilities. What are your thoughts?

–Lindsey Ludwig

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6 thoughts on “Chapters 22, 23 and 24

  1. Rachel Lacap says:

    I think I would be all for programming snarky (but not mean) comments. Kids will be kids. To NOT have the option of a response that helps melody stick up for herself, we would be limiting her freedom of speech.

  2. Amanda Piekarski says:

    I agree this is a great read for kids to learn more about acceptance! My own 5th grader just started reading it!

  3. This is required reading at my son’s school– I think in 6th grade. When I was at Farnsley there was a young man in the STEM program that was an aid in one of the MSD programs. He chose to be an aid all year, instead of a semester as most kids, because he loved the kids in the room. He talked with them, played basketball with the boys, cheered with the cheerleaders, and made a stunning video to “end the ‘r’ word”. He stayed an aid for 2 years and when he graduated he came back to visit and even went to a dance with all of the girls as his ‘dates’. I really never saw regular program children being mean to the kids in the MSD room and usually the special needs kids were treated like rock stars in the hallways and during their inclusion class. But his level of friendship and dedication to the students in that room was something that I will never forget! Of course, it also took a sped teacher to invite the reg ed kids into the room. Maybe if Melody’s school would have attempted inclusion before, some of these kids would know how to be more accepting of kids with differences.

  4. Dala says:

    What a great idea for students to read this! I’m so happy to hear some are already reading as part of a classroom assignment. This is definitely a book to share with teachers that may benefit as well. As we’ve seen in the past few chapters – many educators need better insight into the “words left unsaid” as well as the appropriate approach for respectful and kind interactions with students with disabilities.

  5. Karen Reynolds says:

    It is exciting to see how the medi-talker has changed Melody’s life. It’s sad to see that she still struggles with acceptance and friendship. All Melody wanted to do was fit in. She knew she couldn’t eat the pizza without help and was crushed that she couldn’t be included in something as simple as food. At the competition, we see Melody’s courage and confidence grow. She wasn’t treated as someone disabled when the stage manager helped her be able to participate. It was soooo exciting to make it to finals with the hope of going to Washington D.C.

  6. Jecel Goyala says:

    Although Melody is officially on the team, she doesn’t feel like a part of the team. The team interacts in ways that make it hard for Melody to join in, so although she is physically there, she doesn’t become socially integrated into the group, and doesn’t feel like she can contribute to general discussions. This is similar to how Melody feels in many of her classes—physically present, but not accepted. Even during the competition, some of Melody’s teammates can only see the ways that Melody is different and distracting, instead of the ways she is valuable, as a teammate and as a human being.

    Paul (stage manager) understands the accommodations Melody needs. His empathy comes from his own personal experiences. He is one of the only strangers in the book who understands that Melody is smart and deserves to participate, and that she sometimes needs special accommodations, which don’t make her less intelligent.

    For the first time, Melody feels like a valuable member of the team, as opposed to an outsider who happens to be competing with her classmates.

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