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Speechless: Gaining Independence Through Support Aides and Freedom to Fail

Rockville, Md., Oct. 23 – Speechless had two important teachable lessons in this week’s episode. This episode highlighted the importance of being an aide to a child with a disability and the value of parents letting their children try new things before deciding if they can or cannot do it.

J.J.’s mother Maya took on the task of training underachiever teachers at the school to become aides for new students with disabilities. At first it seems like the aides were not very interested in learning, so Maya decided to make them quit, which would allow the district to hire qualified aides. However, Kenneth secretly gave them advice and told them not to quit, and they prove themselves worthy of the position.

At the end of the episode the aides are paired with their students and they are getting along well. Aides are like extended family members; they are someone you will have to learn to trust with your child. They are supposed to help the student succeed in an inclusive environment. They help the students with a variety of tasks – from translating to toileting.

The other key lesson in the episode is when J.J. goes camping with his father Jimmy. J.J. wants to get branches for the fire on his own. His father is naming everything that could possible go wrong; however J.J. is quick to remind him that just moment ago he said that J.J could do anything. Reluctantly Jimmy gives in, but sets up sticks that would be easy for J.J. to access. Disappointed by his father’s actions, J.J. asks to just go home.

As they are packing, Jimmy accidentally gets stuck in the outhouse when a tree log rolls against the door. J.J. sets out to get help for his father. J.J found his way to the park ranger on his own despite his fear of his chair falling over when going down a steep hill. Proving to his father that he can get things done by himself within reason. All children have the potential to do certain tasks on their own, but parents have to give them that opportunity to try.

Speechless airs on Wednesdays on ABC 8:30 p.m. ET. 

Meet the Author

Katie Townes

Katie Townes is a Communications Fellow at RespectAbility and a graduate of City University of New York City College. She wants to break perceived thoughts people might have about a person with a disability. She created a platform for gamers with and without disabilities to come together in a judgement-free environment.

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