Chapters 30-33

Because of some confusion, we have 2 posts for chapters 30 and 31. 🙂

Chapter 30

Wow! Melody awoke to a rainy, stormy day. Dad’s arm was in a sling after he punched the wall following Melody’s mistreatment, and he was taking off. Mom had a migraine and had to go in to work, although she had planned to be off. Penny was sick and the dog had thrown up on the carpet. Mom tried to entice Melody to stay home but Melody was determined to go to school. Because the whole family operation was running late, Mom had to drive Melody. A tired, emotionally- drained mom backed out of the drive. Soon, Melody was kicking and screaming ,trying to pull the keys out of the ignition, and grabbing Mom’s arm. And it was only when the car hit something with a soft thud that Mom became aware that Penny had run out of the house. Mom “screamed for a long, long time.”.

Obviously, Melody’s journey has taken its toll on the whole family. Here are parents who are trying so hard to support their daughter. It’s a reminder that we only see part of the student’s life. We don’t know the trials and the level of exhaustion a family experiences. Another note, Melody did not have access to Elvira, her communication device, during her time in the car. If only she had had an effective way to communicate . . .  We can’t plan on when we need communication.

Chapter 31

Melody feels responsible for the accident and she is extremely scared. She talks this out with Ms V, using Elvira, and Ms V is very supportive. She is worried that Penny could have brain damage or have to use a wheel chair. “Two broken kids,” Melody types. She communicates that she would rather be left at the airport than see her sister hurt this way. Dad calls with good news about Penny.

What strikes me is that with all the beautiful words that seem to flow through Melody’s head at times, her communication using Elvira is pretty “to the point.” Like she asks Ms V, “Is she dead?” Melody is not beating around the bush, and there is probably a lot of effort in typing novel utterances in this unplanned conversation. She NEEDS to be a writer in my opinion, because her thoughts are wonderful.

 

Chapter 32

Melody goes to school on Monday and confronts her peers in Mr Dimming’s class. She breaks their silence by asking “WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME?” And to Claire, “YOU THREW UP! NOBODY LEFT YOU.” I was proud to her boldness in talking with them. They offer to give her their ugly, cheap little 9th place trophy, and her jerky hands makes it fall to the floor and break. And Melody giggles. “I DON”T WANT IT. YOU DESERVE IT,” she tells them. (Yeah, Melody!!)

Chapter 33

I love Melody’s description of herself. It’s like somebody gave her a puzzle with no picture on the box. And she’s not even sure if she has all the pieces. Her sister is home from the hospital. Melody is at Ms V’s house working on a school project. And we get a little more information. She has just one thumb to communicate with!!   And the ending of the story goes back and repeats the beautiful first chapter. She is surrounded by words, having been blanketed with words by her family. Deep within her are “mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas. Clever expressions. Jokes. Love songs.” How could I have taken my ability to speak and joke and sing for granted for so long?

–Pam Schmit

And take 2 for chapters 30 and 31…

Chapter 30

The next day after Melody had been left out of the quiz team trip, she was determined to go to school. She was angry and didn’t want anyone to think that she could be defeated that easily. The weather was horrific and everything was going wrong. Dad was injured, mom had a migraine, and Penny was sick. Melody’s mom and dad all but begged her to stay home, but she refused. After a series of unfortunate events including spilling orange juice, having to change her shirt, and missing the bus, Melody’s mom had managed to get her in the car in the pouring rain. Then, Melody realized she did not have her book bag. As her dad opened the door to give her mom the book bag, Penny slipped outside, unseen by all except Melody. Melody kicked, screamed, hit her mom, and did anything and everything to try and get her message across. She was going out of her mind and never wanted words more. Backing out of the driveway, they hear a soft thud, and realize the worst has happened and Penny had been hit by the car. I cannot imagine not being to communicate in an emergency. What are some ways that SLPs can provide our non-verbal students to communicate in ALL situations, even when they do not have their devices readily available?

Chapter 31

Mrs. V looked after Melody as her parents went to the hospital with Penny. She brought Melody her device, but in that moment Melody had nothing more to say. Mrs. V said that Melody was not at fault and that she had tried to warn her mother. Melody responded that she had been mad at Penny and had made her mom take her to school. Melody was so worried that Penny was hurt or dead, and then she also wondered if her cognition would be impacted, like her classmate, Jill. She could not imagine that happening to Penny, and then her parents would have “two broken kids”. Mrs. V talked Melody through the accident and through the incident with the quiz team. Melody confided that she just wished she could be normal, and Mrs. V responded that normal sucks and the kids who left her on the quiz team trip were “normal” and why would she want to be like them? They received the news that Penny had made it through surgery and would live. What would be some good activities to do with students to help them realize that “normal” does not exist and everyone is unique in their way?

–Rachel Lacap

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5 thoughts on “Chapters 30-33

  1. Dala Sparks says:

    Sometimes it certainly feels like everything goes wrong at the same time. Oddly enough, situations where nothing seems to be going our way often empower us and strengthen us to push on. It seems that is what happened for Melody. This whole book I have been waiting for her to really tell her classmates what she thinks of them, to really “put them in their place”. She had that opportunity and she made the most of it. I can only hope this situation – and her ability to communicate within it – gives her confidence for future situations. I think this speaks strongly to how one opportunity or one exchange with our own students can empower them for a lifetime.

  2. Lindsey Ludwig says:

    Wow, these chapters were really emotional! I hope this unfortunate set of events helps Melody’s family sees how important it is for her to have her device at all times. The comment about having “two broken kids” really broke my heart…while I’m glad that Melody is cognitively aware enough to have these thoughts, it’s terribly sad for her to perceive herself as “broken.” I’m so glad that she has Ms. V and her family to continue to build her up and help her realize what a beautiful, intelligent and talented girl she is growing up to be. And I was SO happy that she spoke up to the quiz team and made her feelings known. She knows that words are powerful, and I was so glad to see her learning to harness and use that power in a healthy, appropriate manner.

    I’ve loved this book, and am glad it was chosen for our study. It has really helped open my eyes up about issues that children and families with non- or limited-verbal children face.

  3. Karen Reynolds says:

    I was so moved by this story. I tried to read the assigned chapters weekly and not get ahead of myself but then I couldn’t put it down. It was heartbreaking when Melody couldn’t communicate that Penny got out and that she felt it was her fault. When Melody spoke up to her classmates at the end, I was cheering her own. I, too, enjoyed this book. I plan to share it with my ECE colleagues.

  4. Aimee Burton says:

    I love how Melody stood up for herself in Chapter 32. I wish I could give all of my non-verbal and limited verbal kids a solid way to express their feelings like that. I feel like people often overlook a child’s feelings completely when they can’t verbally express them. I believe that modeling empathy and giving a child the dignity and respect they deserve even when we do not fully understand what they are trying to communicate, is a very important part of our job.

  5. Jecel says:

    Because of the rain, Melody uses her manual wheelchair and leaves her Medi-Talker at home. This is a moment in Melody’s life where she desperately wants to communicate but cannot. Just like when Ollie, her goldfish died, or when she was in the toy store and tried to alert her mother to toys she knew were dangerous, Melody is unable to say what she wants and needs to say.
    Penny’s accident brings up Melody’s feelings of helplessness in the face of disaster, like when Ollie died and she was unable to save him. More than anything Melody wants to be able to communicate, and she especially wants to communicate to prevent those she loves from getting hurt.
    In some ways, Melody deals with the same questions and concerns as any able-bodied fifth-grader, but she also realizes that because of her disability she will never be exactly like everyone else, and her day-to-day struggles will necessarily be more complex. As much as she wanted to fit in and be accepted by her classmates, Melody comes to understand that she can’t necessarily expect other 10 and 11 year olds to fully understand her personal experience.

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