For a non-verbal child, making a verbal presentation obviously has its challenges.
However, Carson, our 6-year-old kindergartener, pulled it off last week at school during American Education Week with the help of a tablet device that served as his voice and some newfound confidence.
One year ago, a similar presentation was to be made just down the hall in pre-kindergarten, but he was too shy and embarrassed to do it. Instead, he hid behind his mom while she used his device to say the “Humpty Dumpty” fairy tale. That presentation included legs attached to cardboard that she and Carson made to resemble a brick wall. It was genius craft work, but his introverted nature got the best of him.
Fast forward one year, and he was a different kid last week. This year there were no nerves. In fact, after a couple of his classmates made their descriptive presentations, Carson raised his hand and was anxious to give his thoughts on his trip to Disney World earlier this year as well as show off the objects he brought with him as part of the assignment.
As he got out of his seat, his Dynavox tablet did what it had been doing lately — malfunctioned. Since we worried that might happen, we programmed his presentation the night before into the school’s iPad, which uses the same software and provides similar voice resources.
If Carson was frustrated by his personal device malfunctioning, he didn’t show it and rolled with the technological glitch. I, on the other hand, wanted to toss it across the room. Carson was much cooler about it, moving on to the next device and not skipping a beat with his presentation.
It was a good thing I was videotaping him because I never would have been able to watch him in front of a room of strangers without getting emotional. He was a little shy at first and it was far from perfect, but with the encouragement of his wonderful teacher he got better and more comfortable as the presentation went forward.
In the days before the presentation, I kept wondering how I was going to manage to get out of the office to watch him on deadline day. On more than a few occasions, I didn’t think I was going to be able to get away long enough.
Whenever I think like this and feel pressured by a work conflict with a kid function, I always remind myself 10 years from now I’m not going to remember the specifics of a deadline day in November of 2015.
What I will never forget is how much Carson impressed us during his first public speech in his kindergarten room at OCES that day. He may not be able to speak yet, but with our promise to help, some technological assistance and a supportive partnership with everyone involved at his school and Easter Seals, we can be damn sure he has a voice.
Hopefully this will be the first of many times he gets to demonstrate his incredible will to overcome his disability. He’s a special boy who made us incredibly proud.
Not that I’m biased, of course.
The oldest kid in the house is a music lover.
He likes dance parties so much that Pam bought a small disco ball that now has a permanent home in the living room. There was no reason to put it away because it goes on whenever music is playing, whether it’s day or night.
We encourage this love of music among our kids, as one of their parents’ favorite things to do before they were born was to catch some live music. A couple times a year we still indulge, but kids change everything.
The dance parties at the house are interesting. They are sometimes hilarious and oftentimes overwhelming due to the heightened energy levels in a confined space.
Beckett’s affinity for music led us to create his own playlist on our phones full of his favorite songs, which include several songs from his favorite band Maroon 5 as well as current kid song favorites, Honey I’m Good, Uptown Funk and Bad Blood.
One thing that does drive me crazy with Beckett’s passion for music is his inability to listen to an entire song. He grows bored of the song after a couple minutes and wants to hear something different.
With this penchant for jumping songs, Beckett seems to be trying to squeeze in as many songs in a short period of time. For example, the other night on the way to karate in West Ocean City, he managed to play portions of 10 songs over the course of the less than 10-mile drive.
It bothers me tremendously, but I just bite my tongue usually and just let him play the crazy disc jockey role. There are other battles that are more worth the effort.