Hello! My name is JP
JP is one of the ChildBridge Center for Education’s longest tenured students, entering the school in 2012. When he initially arrived, he was introverted and his expressions often turned to aggressive behavior.
But as he has grown up at the school, teachers and staff found the key to his communication and he has matured into a sweet and friendly classmate and student. “There were times when he first got here and you could tell him something as simple as ‘computer time is over’ and that could result in him being very destructive to his environment, and he is a big guy, so it could be intimidating,” said Jessica Kingji, school administrator. “But JP has always wanted to please people and is so sweet. He just didn’t know how to communicate or express how he felt. And now he is very verbal and just a really sweet kid. We say we learned how to ‘speak JP.’”
Part of “speaking JP” is called scripting. Some of his early struggles stemmed from his internalization. He would watch his favorite cartoons and in many cases he felt those characters were his only friends because they provided consistency and stability as he would know what to expect no matter what.
Teachers and staff found that when JP would talk about one of the cartoons he watched, he was expressing feelings and thoughts on real life situations. Teachers also use “sentence starters” to ease his frustration. They have found when they sense JP getting frustrated, they can say
“I am…” and write down the next word. When JP says the word he is feeling and sees it written down, he feels validated and heard. Meaghan Grap, a lead paraprofessional who works closely with JP, said he has become a model student, especially on community trips. He is one of the few who can do an entire grocery shopping trip with no issues and has excelled because of how they can communicate daily schedules and structured activities.
“He went from being down on himself to so excited about life and that has been so cool to watch,” Meaghan said. “Going from not having his voice heard to a structured way of communicating and feeling validated has helped him so much. He’s just so fun to be around.”