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?
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.
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?