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A Special Child's Adaptation to a Typical Classroom Setting
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Tomeka Laughs in School
You sat in one class after another through the inclusive education programing for children with special needs.
You started to scream and kick the desk.
I walked out of the classroom with you into the hallway.
I was your Special Education Assistant.
You were my one on one student.
Your screams echoed eerily throughout the school.
I wore ear plugs to fend off migraines the high pitched screams triggered in my head.
You kicked my shins bruising them deep greens and blues.
I wore sneakers every day in case I needed to chase after you.
You would give me a sideways smile and laugh as you ran all the way down the hall.
I played music for you in a classroom scattered with a few desks and chairs.
You danced and sang a song only you knew the words too.
You accidentally kicked me in the face giving me a black eye.
I opted out of school picture day.
I pushed you on the swing.
You smiled for an hour straight.
I taught you some basic sign language for eat, drink, more, yes and no.
I gave you choices.
You no longer screamed most of the time.
I stopped wearing ear plugs when I was with you.
I took you outside.
You ran, clapped, laughed and jumped.
You no longer kicked my shins.
You had brain damage, but your heart and soul were intact.
I wanted a picture of the two of us together to have as a lasting memory.
They said, "No!"
I have one anyway that's even better that I carry with me in my heart.
You graduated from 8th grade two years later.
I pictured you laughing and running out of the school singing your song.
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Working with Tomeka gave me a renewed appreciation for the simpler joys in life. Laughing, clapping, dancing, singing, and playing are not only essential but important to my own personal health and well being.
Teaching her to communicate on the most basic level helped me get to know her better. She taught me the importance of making choices or she'd kick and scream. She wanted to be an active participant in decisions in her daily life. Try having someone else make decisions for you every day. I bet you'd become angry and frustrated too.
Can you imagine being hungry or thirsty and not being able to communicate it to anyone? Sign language helped Tomeka make her basic needs known not only to me but to others who took care of her as well.
Open you heart and mind to those who are different. You'll be amazed by how much they can teach you.
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