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Toren came to me at age 32 months. He had 2 words: Ma Ma and Bye Bye. He could not focus, but ran around the room. His mother was convinced I was going to have him cured by his third birthday. I told her I was no miracle worker, but we'd do what we could during the next 4 months. Immediately we started structuring Toren's day. I went home and worked up a program called 'Toren's Nouns'. The first day I showed Toren the program, he looked at it for 10-15 seconds and then left the computer. The next day he stayed about 30 seconds. Each day he built up more time at the computer. By the second week, he would sit on my lap for 10 minutes pressing whichever word he wanted to hear. But he spoke no sounds, no words. Three weeks passed. I began berating myself. 'See, Jo, you thought this noun program was so great. Look at Toren, he's not learning anything.' The fourth week Toren walked over to the computer, picked up the overlay from the IntelliKeys keyboard, pointed to 10 different words
and approximated each word. That day, I cried.
Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again. -James R. Cook
Brian was a boy with Down's Syndrome. He was taking several medications. Brian came from a nurturing family and extended family who provided him with every opportunity. His mother was a teacher and wanted what was best for him. He exhibited no language and was considerably behind his other friends with Down?s Syndrome. We set up a noun program at school. At first he seemed disinterested. He looked at the pictures and sucked his thumb. The more we encouraged him to engage the keyboard, the more he sucked his thumb. We then paired him with a child who was very interested in the noun program. Suddenly the two were fighting over who was next to pick a picture. He worked several times a week at the computer. At his 3-year IEP, the team shook their heads. They didn't understand. Despite the track record of many students with Down?s Syndrome, Brian's language was his best skill. I smiled and his mother winked at me.
EDWARDS: But what have we seen? Relentless negative attacks against John. So in the weeks ahead, we know what's coming, don't we?