Today we had a special visitor, Kate Ahern, who is an adaptive technology consultant who works with our classmate Kendra. She spoke to the class explaining Rett Syndrome to the children. The children learned that it is something that some girls are born with. They learned that it comes from genes and it is not something that you can “catch”. They discussed possible rules for helping Kendra to be successful at school and how to be a good friend to her. They learned that it is important to give her space and how to watch her eyes and her body language to figure out what she may want. They learned that they need to be patient and give her time to respond.
They learned that the same rules apply that they would any other student at school. There is no need to talk to her any differently than they would to another classmate. Even though Kendra can’t speak, she can understand and she can get her feelings hurt just like any other second grader. They promised to help her and to help other students at school to learn how to help her too.
Then Kate showed the children Kendra’s “talker” which is the specialized computer that helps her to communicate with her eyes. She asked the children if they would help Kendra learn to use her new program on her computer by being “aided language input helpers”. We will be having one child a day spending some time using the computer with Kendra. The children thought it was a great idea.
Finally, Kate informed us that girls with Rett Syndrome can get sick easier than other children and it takes them a lot longer to recover from illness so it is very important for the children to be careful about being sick around her. She then asked the children if they had questions. They certainly did and Kate stayed and answered every single one of their questions. We were very lucky to learn more about Kendra and Rett Syndrome from Kate today. Thank you Kate!