| Heidi Baldwin would specifically work with music classes along with music therapy. Therefore, she could not be Anela's aide full-time. Upon her recommendation, a lady who had been in the Masters of Arts in Counseling program would fill the position. She had degrees in early childhood, k-12 and special education. She decided that a position such as this one was what she was looking for, so she seized the opportunity when Heidi mentioned it to her.
Sara Wells watched the students enter the classroom so she'd know what she was dealing with. Many of her previous students made fun of each other and took advantage of the different so-called weaknesses. She didn't see that here. They entered in groups of two or three, and they all talked excitedly. There was a girl who didn't appear to have physical challenges helping a little boy to find his desk. Another girl with a blank expression walked to her friend's desk and moved his chair so he could maneuver his walker underneath it. That was one strange walker. The boy sat in it and used his feet to move around the classroom. Sara's assessment was interrupted when Anela began her classes for the day.
"Who's that?" a girl interrupted.
"Just listen for a second, Rosalyn. We have a new person who is going to help our class."
"But I thought Heidi was going to do that," Robyn said, looking as if she might cry.
"Heidi is going to teach our music classes, and some of you will see her sometimes for--"
"Yay!" Sara heard someone's computer say. She peeked around the frame type thing to see a boy typing away.
"Some of you have music therapy with Miss Heidi and Candice, so you will see her a lot. And since we have music class every day, you'll all see her on a regular basis. This is Sara, and she's going to help us because there are so many of you in this class. We'll all have to help her learn about the special things you all use, and you will have to tell her how to help you. Can you all do that for me?"
"Yes," her students said with various devices.
"In circle time this morning, we will do something different. We'll tell Miss Sara who we are since she doesn't know us well. We will take some time later today for our normal circle time activity."
"I'm Isaac!" one of the boys said.
"Okay, since you began, we'll go in a circle, so since Jenna is to your right--"
"Yeah, what she said. I'm Jenna."
"Zack." the strange computer said again.
"I'm Robyn, and that's my twin brother--"
"Raymond," the boy finished for her.
"Okay, we need to go in our circle," Anela reminded her students.
"Nequenta," another strange computer said. Sara noticed that this girl was in a wheelchair, not like that strange thing Kennan used. The next girl yawned and said, "I'm Sierra."
"I'm Shane, and Sierra is my best friend!"
"I'm Bethany, and I like to play in the sandbox!" The boy next to her laughed before he said, "I'm Scott."
Brandon, Adam, Jordan and Andrew all introduced themselves at the same time. After Sara untangled their identities, she got the last student's name: Andrea.
"We're going to write in our journals this morning, since we didn't get to do that yesterday." Anela's plan was to help Sara understand the varying needs while Jane and Anna supervised the class.
As Sara waited for Anela to gather the needed materials, she watched the students' activities in fascination. Isaac repeatedly rolled a pencil across his desk. Rosalyn started talking to Nequenta in a rather disorganized fashion. Kennan began typing immediately, and as always, the teachers enjoyed reading his entries. Robyn was helping Zack find his coloring book. Sierra saw Shane's paper on the floor, and she picked it up for him so he wouldn't have to struggle with the task. His journal was different than the others; he had white paper with yellow lines in a three-ring binder so he could write in between the lines.
"Hey! You can't do that, Nequenta! It's yucky!" Rosalyn said loudly, causing the aides and students look in her direction, "She's chewing on a crayon; that's yucky!" Rosalyn explained. Anna went to retrieve the crayon and get Nequenta started on something different. She brought a plastic tray with two containers to Nequenta.
"I want you to put the beads from this container into the empty one," Anna explained and used the hand-over-hand technique to show Nequenta what to do. Jordan, Andrew, Brandon and Adam continued work on their collective writing. Andrea used a coloring book, much like the one Zack had. By this time, Anela was ready to discuss the students varying needs.
"I don't expect you to remember all of this, but I just want to give you an idea of what you'll encounter in the classroom. There are three students who wear disposable underwear, formerly known as adult diapers: Nequenta, Andrea and Kennan. The bathroom has sufficient space for us to change them, and my own rule is that two of us need to be available to help Kennan, Nequenta and Andrea get cleaned up. There are several visually impaired students in the class, though Jenna and Kennan are the only completely blind students. Shane, Adam and Bethany have some vision. Jane said she saw you looking at Kennan's device that looks a little different than a wheelchair. It's a stander, and it provides full body support for him. He's having a relatively good day, so we can put him in the stander for as long as he can tolerate it. You saw that it has wheels like a wheelchair, and that's so he can be moved. There are straps that hold Kennan in place and footrests that make a platform for him to stand. All of the students who can't talk (Andrea, Kennan and Zack) all use computer devices to communicate their feelings, desires and needs. Some of them need extra time for sleep, and since we can use two classrooms, one is designed for naptime. We're rather flexible, since their needs can change from one day to the next, and things can change throughout the day. Sierra has seizures; they deplete her energy supply, and Kennan often needs naps as well. You will see the physical, speech and occupational therapists, along with the psychologist and other counselors. During music class, the instructor comes to our classroom just to make things easier."
"I saw that some of the students were doing things other than writing. I take it you design activities according to the child's level?"
"Absolutely. If we use stuff way beyond their levels, there is no point in sending them to school."
Sara got a taste of a little of everything that day. When she and Anela returned to the classroom, they found Janell pushing Kennan down the hall. Soon after, Candice and Scott walked toward the therapist's office.
Anela must have heard Sara turn and sensed the question, for she said, "Scott's pregnant mother and older sister died two years ago. Scott's dad couldn't handle his family members' deaths in the same accident that caused Scott's paralysis, so another family just adopted him. He didn't start therapy until this year, so his healing was put on hold. Although he seems to be fine, he still needs to work through some of those issues."
Sara would hear the students' other tales, things she never thought possible. Sara grew up in a conservative Christian home and was sheltered from the harsh things in life. Thus, she was shocked when she heard many of Anela's students talk about abuse, drug use, etc. Maybe she could help them heal. When she looked at the big picture, she realized that healing was much more important than teaching them reading comprehension. Maybe God would use her as His agent.
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