Imagine having so much information stored inside of you, but there is a disconnect between your brain and your mouth. The words are right on the tip of your tongue, but you can't quite express yourself. Now, put yourself in the body of a child, and try to understand what a day in the life of my little girl looks like.
Sometimes, Josie can't find the right words and you can see in her eyes how frustrated she feels. Instead of formulating what she wants to say, it's easier for her to end the conversation. If you cut her off or try to speak for her, she'll simply shut down. There is a delicate balance between encouraging her thoughts and speaking for her. I know to hold my tongue and let her guide the conversation. It make take more time to finish the conversation, but believe me, it’s worth the wait.
Josie is stubborn, but that's not a bad trait to have. If she didn't assert herself, everyone would walk all over her. She knows that she needs to stand her ground, so she digs in her heels. She doesn't always act the way she should, but if she gets mad and throws her pencil on the floor, there is usually a reason. Frustration rears its head in many ways.
Josie is more than capable of handling an inclusion classroom, but I always wonder what challenges she is facing during the day. I would never think anything malicious was occurring, but I recognize that she is not always heard. Recently, her broken glasses were placed in their case and forgotten as the school day proceeded. While everyone else was unaffected, Josie entered crisis mode. Those close by didn't understand her frustration. Reading and writing is hard enough. Blurry words on the screen drove her over the edge. Frustration turned to disobedience and she was labeled difficult and stubborn.
Where do you draw the line between behavior and a lack of communication?
Bend down, look her in the eyes, and let her express what she is feeling. Last week, she tried to hold back her tears and her lip quivered as she recounted her day. Not only does she want to be heard, she wants you to take the time to listen to her. Josie operates on a ten second delay. She knows what she wants to say, but she needs time to respond. Her silence is certainly not ignorance. Her mouth needs a little extra time to catch up to her brain. If you could simply read her thoughts, you'd understand.
Will you wait for her or will you dismiss her?
Some people have a preconceived notion of Josie garnered from a Google search. It's a shame for those who have not even tried to get to know her, because she's amazing. Josie is infinitely more intelligent than they will ever give her credit for. The Wikipedia page they stumbled upon may have outlined her diagnosis, but did it let them peek into Josie’s colorful imagination? Did it happen to mention her photographic memory? Our “pop star” remembers the lyrics to every song she has ever heard and she loves to sing. Words come easily to her when set to music.
If only she could reach the world through song. Would you listen then?