As we roll Joey’s chair closer to his eye gaze AAC device, his Joey’s eyes light up as though he is reuniting with an old friend. Once we position him in front of his screen, and make sure he is close enough so that the sensor can pick up his eye gaze, he off to the races. Some days he dives into his words right away. Helicopter. Purple. Car. Fast. Tyrannosaurus Rex. Tiger. Parrot. Penguin. Where. Alligator. Purple. White. Over. The words come out fast and furiously – there are so many words and so much time to make up for. [Read more…]
In college, I took a computer programming class. It did not go well. Luckily, the professor was from another era and did not believe girls should be in the computer science field. (The college was only fifteen years into admitting women, and there were still some professors who did not agree with the change in enrollment policy. It’s hard to believe in 2017, but it is true.) The professor had no problem “helping” us during office hours, but because he did not believe us girls could actually complete computer programming, he’d ask a question and then immediately complete the work himself, not giving us enough wait time to stutter through an answer. No surprise, I did not learn any computer programming in that class. The professor assumed I couldn’t do it, and instead of even trying to teach me, he let me slide. Now, I was a college junior and was using Computer Science to replace the Calculus 2 requirement, so I was not going to make too much of a fuss about not learning to program. I regret my effort now. [Read more…]
This is part 2 in a 3 part series on presuming competency.
Joey looked at me, then the floor, and finally back to his eye gaze AAC device. He said “Off. Over. White” on his eye gaze twice, then looked at the floor again. Finally, he said “down” on the eye gaze device. I looked down, and realized that the red maraca with a white top had rolled under my chair and I hadn’t seen it when I first followed his gaze toward the floor. Although off over white down seemed to be a random string of words, I started to suspect that what he was telling me was the maraca fell off the tray. The white is over the red on the maraca, and it was down on the floor. When I handed Joey the maraca, his grin told me that it was exactly what he wanted. [Read more…]
This is the first in a series of posts on the importance of presuming competency, and strategies to help us.
If you want to see Joey’s smile, the first step is to look him directly in the eyes and talk to him in a voice you would use with any three-year-old. Next, ask him questions that require a response, and pause to let him attempt to answer. Nod at his answer, and then pause, waiting for him to see if he will expand on that idea by pointing, gesturing, or by glancing somewhere else in the room. Don’t talk to his parents about him in front of him. Talk directly to him. Presume his competence, even if he does not jump at the occasion to engage, or if he looks uninterested in your words that day. [Read more…]