“Where do they get all these amazing people?” That’s what Special Education Teacher Lisa McGlone asked herself the first time her son went to Camp Communicate and she met the staff. “My heart grew 12 sizes just from being around them.”
Lisa’s experience with Pine Tree Society began with her son then expanded into her classroom at Buxton Center Elementary School.
“Pine Tree Society has had a huge impact in our lives and in the lives of my students. They are part of my child’s success and part of my students’ success.”
Her son Teagan has Down syndrome, is non-verbal and uses an augmentive communication device to express himself. Pine Tree Society’s Speech, Language and Assistive Technology team started working with him when he was in kindergarten. He’s now 12 years old and going into middle school.
“Teagan has some behavioral issues and can be a little stubborn,” said Lisa. “But they made learning how to communicate so much fun for him.”
Pine Tree Society’s comprehensive approach ensured Teagan’s speech therapists knew his behavior plans so they could immerse themselves in his growth by not just working with his speech goals, but by keeping the big picture in mind and involving the whole family.
“They were true partners in making sure our family learned all about his communication technology and that everybody was in the same mindset.”
For Lisa, at home and in the classroom, the Pine Tree Society team always puts students first and never places limits on kids. “They all have that gift. They all share a common belief and vision and are reaching for the same outcome. They know each student so well. It’s mystifying to me how they’re able to do that.”
When Teagan was first learning how to use his augmentive communication device, they were building an addition onto their house. His communication team immediately recognized that as an opportunity to help him learn how to communicate.
“They asked him ‘What do you want your bedroom to look like?’ and next thing I knew he was coming home with all these wild stories about what he wanted.”
The Pine Tree Society team helped him develop ownership of his communication by learning what was important to him and showing him how he could share with others.
“Teagan absolutely loves his cousin Josh. They helped him see how he can write to Josh and share what he feels. He says things to Josh he doesn’t say to me; things none of us would know if they hadn’t taken the time to learn about him and discover that connection.”
She sees that same level of commitment from the Speech, Language and Augmentive Services team every week with her students at school. They make speech therapy fun, interesting and engaging.
“They are vested in every student they work with and it amazes me how much they know about each child. They take full ownership and make sure every student gets the time they need. Our favorite days in the classroom are speech days. We should get t-shirts made that say ‘It’s Speech Day!” we love it so much,” she laughed. “It’s the energy they bring. I couldn’t do it without them.”