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Alaska on my Mind

One of my favorite parts of anticipating the fall season is getting to go to Alaska to do my occupational therapy with children. While I am on a different journey this year, I want to take this time to reflect as my school staff friends prepare to head back up to Alaska for a new school year. I want to share this one story with you.

Yesterday, there was a 9-year-old boy in the special abilities room. He had his crowd of peers in stitches. This was the second day I had watched and listened to the youngest comedian I had ever seen. His name was James and he had a fantastic ability of remembering many things. He was reciting jokes from a recent Halloween joke book that was read to him. He was hilarious because he had a real dry humor, mixed with a traditional Yup’ik affect and Yup’ik speaking rate. I couldn’t stop laughing! At one point, I brought my handheld recorder out to record him. He was hesitant and immediately got up to run to the bathroom. Eventually he relaxed and came back out for me to record four or five jokes. He was really getting into it by the end. I am chuckling just thinking about it now. After his comedic performance, I decided to play his jokes for his teacher. James, poking his head out from behind the bathroom door, listened intently. As we neared the end of the recording, he came out from behind the door and I could tell he was enjoying his moment of fame, which made me get giddy too.

He was so gifted in his ABILITY to be humorous, which made me brainstorm how to give James the chance to showcase this ability again. I approached him and asked if he wanted to tell his jokes at a school assembly. He got so nervous and ended up running into the bathroom and didn’t come out for quite awhile.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if our support and “treatment” plans were focused on supporting and expanding already present natural abilities? Would it make a difference in James learning, if he could be taught the usual subjects such as math, science and English, through the use of comedy? Just imagine how much more children with special needs could learn, if we played to their already apparent skills and talents.


Cyndi is an engaging speaker and presenter, sharing valuable life-changing stories of her brother and others with different-abilities she has encountered in her work. Cyndi’s enthusiasm, honesty and real-life experience inspires others to explore fresh, creative ideas for adopting a more wholehearted approach to teaching and providing facilitation of skills for differently-abled people.

If you have the pleasure of working with children and you’re interested in learning more about Cyndi’s wholehearted approach, please contact her by clicking this button. LETS TALK ABILITY!

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