Worth Repeating: First Person on the Last Page: Respect, Regard, Revere
by Laura Jo McKamey, Source ASHA Leader
I have been a rural speech-language pathologist for 27 years. For 25 of those 27 years, one of my students has been my own son, A.J., who was born with Down syndrome. Because I am the only SLP in the county, it was my responsibility to provide his speech-language treatment as well as his family life. I know my situation is not unique. I have met many colleagues who share the extra responsibility of a child with disabilities.
My son has a stutter and a frontal lisp, and believes that his reality (populated by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Walt Disney characters, and Power Rangers) is genuine. As his SLP, I knew academically the expectations for his future and educational progress. I participated in painful individualized education program meetings where the mother in me and the professional in me were placed at odds. Our school district, though small, has had a variety of students with severe educational needs. Each of these students is unique and differently able, not easily placed in a nice cubbyhole with a set curriculum of teaching techniques and tools. A.J. knows how to read, write, and tell time. He has read all of the Harry Potter books with a 70% comprehension rate, a minor miracle considering his reading level is second grade. Today, A.J. is a successfully employed adult.
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