The full grant application title is “Developing supports for children who have trouble talking or understanding speech” and was submitted by Ashley Andrews, an Occupational Therapist who works with three schools in the Highline School District.
In her grant request, Ashley says “Many of our special needs students have trouble understanding spoken words, talking to teachers or other students, or making sense of the school routine. Pictures make all the difference!
This software will allow me to make up picture schedules and social stories to help students navigate through their day. We will even be able to help with challenging situations such as “How can I join in that game at recess?” or “How can I calm down when I get really mad at my friend?”
We are happy to report that this grant has made a huge difference in how she and her team (made up of a speech therapist and classroom teachers) can support their students with autism, sensory processing disorder or speech delay.
Here is Ashley’s favorite story:
A. is a three-year-old boy with severe language delays and sensory processing differences. He is very smart and interested in other children, but preschool was a completely alien environment to him. He was overwhelmed his first day of preschool. He did not understand that he needed to stay with the group. He did not understand that he needed to sit at the table for snack time, rather than run around the room and snatch food from other students’ placemats. He did not understand that he could interact with other students by smiling and saying “Hi.” Instead, he would run up to them and bump noses with them. He cried for hours.
We were able to create books just for him that tell him the story of various classroom routines. He studies his books avidly and reads them along with adults. He stays with the group and follows along with what the class is doing. He brings his snack books to the table with him and looks at it as he raises his hand, uses PECS to ask for his favorite snack and waits until his friends are finished before he leaves the table. When he sees a friend he smiles, waves and calls out , “Hi, ___!” He is so excited to see friends that he still gets too close to people’s faces, but he keeps his hands to himself and is working hard on learning about personal space.
Thank you Ashley for sharing this story with us. You brought both the feelings of frustration and accomplishment of this one boy to life for us. We are thankful that we have such caring and supportive teachers and staff in the district and we are grateful to all the supporters who make these grants possible.