Communication skills, whether verbal or with the assistance of a communication device is the most essential tool for our students to grow and learn on a path towards greater independence. The common core standards even include speaking and listening standards, which include asking the student to “prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations.” Harley has had an opportunity to increase his success with this standard through his regular sessions with the speech therapist, weekly communication peer groups, instruction in the classroom and his weekly community service opportunity.
Initially, Harley relied solely on hand gestures and facial expressions to communicate his wants and needs. During his time at Heartspring, Harley continues to increase his ability in the use of his communication book. He practices his communication skills daily with classroom staff and in a one-to-one setting with his speech therapist. Those lessons are expanded to instruction in communicating with peers each week as Harley works with his classmates on craft projects and large group activities in the classroom. Harley’s classroom teacher plans daily lessons which encourage him to practice and further develop his communication skills when participating on his IEP goals in the classroom. Harley is very much a people person and enjoys communicating with every person he encounters. Recently, Harley’s growth and success in communication and work skills allowed him to start participating in the vocational classroom and the workshop.
We have seen Harley flourish with his new communication methods, which have opened a world of opportunities for him, especially in public settings. Each week, Harley practices his communication skills as he helps to deliver lunches for Meals on Wheels. Meal recipients and Heartspring staff alike, look forward to Harley’s positive outlook, contagious smile and newfound ability to effectively communicate.