Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tale of Triumph

There is a student in my class who has been with me since September of 2001. When he arrived he had very little understandable spoken language (in fact he was trialled on an AAC device then he was determined to have hearing loss, which was treated with hearing aides and intensive speech therapy). He also had no reading, writing or numeracy skills, and he had significant maladaptive behavior.

Today he is 20 years old and we went to the local bank for him to open an account. (We had parental permission for this and all of the needed items like money, ID, etc. We prepped for this for years.) He introduced himself saying, "I would like to open an account, please." He was able to answer all of the questions regarding address, telephone number, social security number, etc. He filled out the paperwork himself. He explained to the clerk the difference between checking and savings ("checking for everyday, like grocery; saving for big things, save up, like karaoke machine."). At one point he stopped the process and said, "Excuse me, may I use your bathroom?". (Such manners my student has!)

During the process the other student who was with us became very jealous, she wanted a bank account too, (she is a device user, only her device had lost its charge and she used adapted sign to tell us "mad" and "jealous"). The student opening the account excused himself again, turned around, and told his friend that it was okay, that he is much older than she is and that some day she would open an account too. The clerks had tears in their eyes.

I didn't well up myself until the entire 45 minute process was over. At the very end, when all of the forms were filled out and my student had an envelope of blank checks and a temporary ATM card, the clerk shook his hand and thanked him, asking him if he had any questions. He said, "Yes, I have a question."

My heart sank. My student has three perseverative questions he asks (all day long) including, "Am I getting tall?", "Am I buff?", and "Am I doing a good job?" I assumed one of these was about to come out of his mouth. I was wrong. Instead he asked, "I am responsible now?"

Tears filled my eyes. The clerk explained that, yes, he was responsible for keeping track of his money, not losing his card and making sure that no one tricks him out of his money.

Happy Valentine's Day to me. What a feeling!


  1. Wow! That brought tears to my eyes too! We go through all the hard days and then we have an experience like yours--that's what it is all about!

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Kate. We all need this kind of inspiration. Sounds as though this young man is doing very well indeed. It also sounds as though he is fortunate in having your support. --Paul


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