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Making Connections Everyday: Thomas

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A few years back I had the privilege of being an instructional aide for a 6 year old who was blind, deaf and autistic. Thomas was a delight not only in my everyday at work but has taught me so many things about myself.
You may be wondering, how did he communicate? How did he tell you his basic needs?
Thomas was fascinated by light of various forms. He had such limited sight that being able to respond to light was one of his IEP goals. We had several therapy tools that would light up when touched and u made it a game. I started with all of the objects lighting up and praising him when he chose one that did with a pat on his back. Eventually we moved up to 4 of 5 lighting up and down to 1 of 5 being a light up tool. The amazing changes over just a bit of time where he originally would get frustrated, and scream, to where he would grunt at the wrong toys and pat me when he picked the right one.
Why do I share this story? Because just the other day I was reminded how making a connection with our students and relate their personal experiences and future goals to their IEP goals, and standards mastery, can make the world of difference.
What have you done on your classroom to relate a goal, or standard, to a student who is struggling?

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