This morning, in preparation for progress reports, I needed to assess Broadway Showtunes on her ability to answer WH- questions presented in non-fiction passages at her reading level (roughly mid-second grade, for the record.) Passage was selected, pencil given, clear if-then contingency established.
Alas, Broadway Showtunes was not feeling it. Shuffle, shuffle, scratch. Head down. More scratching. One quiet word, in her slow and thickened voice. “Uncomfortable.”
Like many kids, with and without Down’s Syndrome, Broadway Showtunes has a tendency to develop an amazing array of physical symptoms when confronted with something she’d rather not do. I nudged her through 2 what/whys about polar bears before finally concluding rub rub scratch wince that something was truly up.
“Is your chair uncomfortable?” No.
“Is the desk uncomfortable?” No.
“Is your body uncomfortable?” A nod.
A pause. A bit more specialized scratching.
“Did you just start wearing a bra?”
We did one more question, and I let Broadway Showtunes use the staff bathroom to fish out the bra. Thinking, as I looked over the work samples and she wrestled her way out of and back into her dress, of all the things that have to happen in the learning of this child. Thinking how the effort that I could hear her making to get the neckline over her head is the same effort her speech teachers have made to help her pronounce multi-syllabic words. The same effort her parents make, teaching her the meaning of all the words around her. Privacy. Uncomfortable. Habitat. Bears. How much it took, over time, to get this precious preteen exactly to this point–to this moment when her teacher is trying to get quantitative data on her reading comprehension while she is trying to deal with needing a bra. How terrifying and exciting the road is, still ahead.