Sunday, November 6, 2011
Due to privacy laws, I obviously can't (and wouldn't!) write about any of my clients. However, I have received permission from a special parent to write a blog about my experience and share some of her videos and content from the internet. I know the blog will do little to capture how amazing this child is, but I still would like to take a chance to share her story.

I met Makily when I was a graduate student. I was seeing her under the guidance of my supervising SLP. At first, I only observed my supervisor working with her. My first impressions were that Makily was a sweet, beautiful girl. She loved working with my supervisor, and they had a special bond. You could sense that Makily was just incredibly comfortable with the SLP. She would giggle and laugh and make wonderful eye contact to share stories without verbalizing with this SLP. My first impression was that I hoped I could get to that point with some of my future clients. That kind of bond is powerful.

Makily is a child that has had quite a journey in her life thus far. It is not my place to tell her story, but I can share links to blogs her mother has written. Please go to "My New Normal" to read her mother's blog about their amazing journey and daily life. It takes guts to share the kind of insights and feelings that Trish, her mother, does in her writing. I think she does a fabulous job of reaching out to many families who have children with special needs because of her ability to expose herself like that.

Makily is a child with Emanuel Syndrome. Emanuel Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that is extremely rare. Makily has faced, and will continue to face, many many challenges in her life. With all that said, I must say this little girl is a warrior! She reminds me to smile in the face of adversity.

Another thing Makily has taught me... never underestimate a child. When you hear about the difficulties that accompany a disorder such as Emanuel Syndrome, it can be daunting as a therapist. Where do I start? What can I do to make a difference? Will this child be able to make progress?

The Criterion of the Least Dangerous Assumption by Anne Donnellan come into play here.
"The criterion of least dangerous assumption holds that in the absence of conclusive data, educational decisions ought to be based on assumptions which, if incorrect, will have the least dangerous effect on the likelihood that students will be able to functional independently as adults" 
What in the world does this mean?? Basically -- never make an assumption that, if you are wrong, will limit a child's ability to succeed. If you assume a child will never be able to talk or vocalize, or even read, then you won't work on those areas obviously. But... how will you know? How do you KNOW what a child can and can't do? 

I try to keep this in mind during my daily practice. If I provide the most supportive environment I can (visual, verbal, tactile, kinesthetic, auditory, etc.), is it possible this child may be successful in obtaining this skill? Invariably the answer is that I must try and see. If a therapeutic technique doesn't work, given time and family support, then you must consider an alternative.

Makily is an amazing example of this. She is beating the odds by living today! For the brief amount of time I worked with her, I saw her ability and her desire and her need to communicate. She would reach out her hand to start a toy or activity again. She would search for my eyes to tell me she wants more. She would try her best to vocalize and tell me verbally. You can't make any assumptions about Makily. She is a beautiful, strong, and happy child that has taught me so much more than I can put into words.

What does the future hold for Makily? Perhaps an augmentative device! She has had success with PECs in the past, and I am optimistic about this avenue of communication for this sweet little girl.

I know that this blog probably hasn't said much... but I hope it perhaps reminded others out there that it is important to never underestimate a child.  Thank you Trish, for letting me share what an impact Makily has had on my life!


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