Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Love of my Life

 You'all know who this is...right? Well, I betcha didn't know that Bart is THE most excellent teaching aide a spec ed teacher could have. Confused? No doubt, but in my shoes we have to think outside the box once in a while pretty much all day every day.

In September I met a new student named Amanda. Amanda had come for several transition visits in the previous April, May and June which seemed to go well. But mom was really nervous about the transition from elementary to secondary school. I am well used to that - most parents are more anxious than their kids. Especially when those kids have special needs.

Well, the first day of highschool arrived and we began to understand why mom was anxious. Amanda refused to eat, refused to engage, refused to NOT SCREAM BLOODY MURDER, refused to do just about anything. Hmmmmm  We tried all of our usual strategies - no go.  The educational assistant, new to my school tried every trick in the book and I mean everything. I could find NO fault with anything she was doing.
 So, we enlisted the help of Bart. I found Bart, years ago, stuffed in a box in the school basement. I had a student with autism who liked the Simpsons so I brought Bart to my classroom but the student wasn't interested, in fact, he didn't even want to look at Bart so he sat untouched in my office for several years. I brought Bart out and soon Amanda was carrying him everywhere. She still screamed, she was still stubborn and she still wouldn't eat. BUT, she had found something she liked and she dragged Bart with her everywhere.
I thought let's set Bart up doing the things we want Amanda to do - like sit at the table and eat her food, sit in her rocking chair and listen to a story on tape....
 sort "eggs" into an egg carton...
 spell her name...
 play games on her iPad...
deliver mail to the teachers' mailboxes....
Oh look!! Bart's in my mailbox :) I love his sheepish grin!
Bart became indispensable, working with Amanda on all of her tasks. Whatever Bart would do, Amanda would do.
 Here's Bart using Amanda's specially adapted computer - he looks like a real pro!
Fit dominoes through a small slot? No problem - Bart makes it look easy!
Oh no.....not the pennies again! BORING!! Don't they know we don't even use the penny anymore in Canada...DUH!!
 Oh, alright - if it makes you happy I'll do it - keep your shirt on!
Ohhhhh, that's the way you do it...easy peasy!
Shredding?? - it's a no-brainer!!

Bart is now a full-fledged member of our classroom. He goes everywhere with Amanda. There is no more screaming, she eats her snacks and her lunch with no issues and has pushed beyond all previous skill levels. Amanda doesn't speak except for a few sounds, signs and gestures but her eyes speak volumes and her laughter fills the room with joy. We are giggle buddies. She'll come over to my desk, lean in and whisper "ho ho" at which point I give my heartiest Santa laugh which sends her into fits of laughter. Yes, she has learned how to "prompt" the prompter!
Leaning in close for a barely audible "ho ho" - Amanda - we love you so much!


  1. That smile says it all!!
    Jane x

  2. Beautiful Smile Amanda!

  3. That is so incredibly awesome Jane! Seriously that is so cool! :)

  4. You are one amazing woman, I could never do what you do. There is a special place in heaven for you girl.

  5. Super cool! As a K teacher I totally admire you and what you do. As a Simpsons fan, I say Totally Rad! When the Simpsons first came out in the early 90s I was in grade ten and my parents wouldn't let us watch it. Seems laughable now.

  6. Whatever works! I put a photo album together of these pix and more so she can "take Bart home" at the end of the day. She's one happy camper now!

  7. Well I couldn't do what YOU do either! Everyone has their place - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I worked in a bank for 14 years and that definitely wasn't what I was cut out for.

  8. To be able to put a smile on that precious face is worth all the mornings getting up at 4am :)

  9. You are a wonderful person. I just love you. Thank you for all that you do. You rock, dude!


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