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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

double joy

Yesterday was an unexpected day of double joy. These things can
be so small. Sometimes they snake up on you with no warning. In
the end, you are left with something special to rejoice about.
Or, in my case, two somethings.

It began Monday morning with an email from the Achieve program
coordinator at Hattie Larlham. That's the name of the program
I'm working in as a volunteer. She likes what I've been doing.
The one-on-one time is so precious for the individuals. She has
some who aren't doing well in the big group setting. She wanted
to know if I'd be willing to teach specific skills to these
individuals while we work together.

Are you kidding me? Teaching people with profound developmental
disabilities was my life-long dream. I don't care if it's not a
paid job. I'd love to work as a teacher again. I felt so happy
and excited. I'm a teacher! I'm a teacher!

My volunteer time working with Thomas was great. I read him
tactile picture books and helped him feel the line drawings.
He loved "Animal Kisses." He kept his hand on the cat's
scratchy tongue, the dog's sticky tongue and the rubbery fish.
He even moved his fingers on his own to feel them more. We
played with balls, shape, Play Doh and other simple toys. The
goal is to keep his hands busy so he won't suck on them. He's
also learning to help put away things after he uses them. He
still needs hand-over-hand assistance for this. Hopefully,
someday he'll be able to do it on his own. When I had him give
me items to put away, I'd say, "Thank you, Thomas." He'd smile
so big at that.

Later that evening, I went to Joseph's school for a conference
with his 5th grade teacher. It's his sixth year at this
school, and the first time I had an interpreter there during a
conference. It made a huge difference. This time I could be
part of the meeting and actually communicate with the teacher.

Joseph is doing so well in school. He's an amazing kid who loves
to learn. Math is his best subject. He gets so into science
projects. He's a reading machine and is showing growth in
writing.

The teacher wanted to share some of his writing with me. She
read a letter that Joseph wrote about his progress in school.
Then she told me about a paper he wrote about his hero. I was
curious to find out who his hero is. The answer shocked me.
Joseph wrote:

"My hero is my mom. She is deaf, blind and can't walk. She has
three disabilities and still helps me with things. That's why
she is my hero."

I just wanted to sit there and cry. Oh, what a sweet and
beautiful child. He fills my heart with love and joy. These
are the moments I live for.

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