Saturday, September 30, 2006

DAY26.Rosedale School. Austin, TX
We visited this remarkable school for children with multiple severe and profound disabilities. About a dozen of the children were led outside to encounter the bell, each in their own way. Because the children expressed themselves in ways that were sometimes unfamiliar to me, it was not always easy for me to tell if a child was enjoying the bell or not. However, each child stayed near the bell as I carefully rang it until they were satisfied. It’s amazing how much a smile indicates pleasure and approval and the lack of one usually signifies the opposite. However, in this instance, only a few of the children were capable of smiling and so I took my cues from other behavior. Standing or sitting very still or reaching towards the bell were responses I watched for.

And then suddenly I started to hear all these little voices. They were coming from all over the place and were saying the same exact phrases with identical voices. “Wow! That is a really BIG bell!” “That is the loudest bell I’ve ever heard!” “I have never heard anything like that before”. I finally realized the children who couldn’t speak were tapping big yellow buttons on their wheelchairs and the buttons were triggering prerecorded responses. Although the phrases were limited, the tiny cacophony they generated felt very exciting, and I believe it was a good experience for everyone.

Plus everybody got some Mardi Gras beads that Liz’s friend, Moe had given us as we were leaving Louisiana.

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