Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today during community based education one of my students decided not to get off the bus at McDonald's. This was likely due to a lack of explanation on my part as McDonald's is a favorite place. We typically make only two stops in the community and McDonald's was a third, surprise stop because we had a little extra time (although only enough extra time for take out). This student needs to know the schedule and routine to be able to cope well. Thus when my question, "Do you want to go into McDonald's?" was met with a firm, "No!" I let it go, "That's fine. We can wait on the bus."

So we waited. About ten minutes passed (apparently there was a line) and the student began saying, "Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!..."

I again asked, "Hi. Do you want to go into McDonald's?" This time the non-verbal "yes" was apparent from the sheer joy and excitement on the her face.

We headed inside and while in line practiced ordering on the Dynavox. The student was literally jumping up and down by the time we were asked, "May I take your order?"

Click - "I would like a chicken sandwich please?"
"Really?" I asked, raising my eyebrows, since a chicken sandwich has never come up in practicing.
Click - "I want a hamburger please."
Click - "I want chicken nuggets."
Click - "Could I please have a cheeseburger?"
"Hold on," I said, "pick one thing."
Click - "I want a hamburger please."
"You sure?" I asked.
Click - "I want a hamburger please."
The clerk looked at me and I nodded. "Do you want anything else?"
Click - "I would like onion rings instead of fries."
"Sorry, buddy, you can't get onion rings here," I said.
Click - "May I have a small order of fries?"
The clerk glanced at me again and I nodded slightly.
Click - "I want milk instead of soda."
"Sorry, buddy, we have plenty of milk at school for you."
Click - "I want a medium diet coke."
I laughed. "And you have three half full diet cokes in the fridge in the classroom!"
The clerk smiles and asks if we just want a hamburger and small fries. I nod and assist my student in handing over some cash. My student jumps up and down a few times and grins.

Then the clerk says, "I have never seen anything like that before. That is how she talks?"
"Yes." I answer.
"She can hear, but she can't talk?" the clerk asks handing her the food and change.
"Yes, she uses that to talk, but just like you and me she doesn't always know what she wants to say." I reply.
Click - "going to hello and goodbye page"
Click - "See you later."

Sometimes McDonald's food is more important than disability awareness at McDonald's.


  1. That's great that the cashier wasn't afraid to ask honest questions and you were able to answer in a way to educate her without it being akward for your student (by comparing her with the rest of us). This is how we create awareness!

  2. What an awesome intereaction all the way around! My son is just beginning to use button devices and we get some odd looks but people are really uncomfortable asking. I guess I'm not totally comfortable yet, either, and I may be telegraphing a "none of your business" message. Hmmm.

  3. That sounds fun! searched for dynavox v and found your spot on the net! Looks like a great site. My son is only 7. He has special needs, although not profound. We are researching what voice to update him with.

    You sound like a great teacher!

  4. Thanks for saying I sound like a great teacher. I try to be, I think I occasionally reach greatness, but I usually have to settle for being a good teacher. I recently color coded this students fast food ordering page so that she can order one green thing (sandwich or nuggets), one yellow item (side) and one blue item (drink). I will make a strip that will velcro to the top of her DV case that shows this to help with the cuing. This should cue down on the six orders of main items out of excitement issue.


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