The book's main character has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak for years. Doctors, teachers, and psychologists continue to treat her as though she is cognitively disabled because she has no way to communicate deeper thoughts. She is in a self-contained classroom where she experiences the same lessons and routines year after year. Eventually, the right team begins to work with her, sees the spark, and proceeds to get her an augmentative alternative communication device. It changes her world, and she is able to access general education classes and even participate on her school's quiz team.
Read the book.
For our project about the book, I gave each of them a print out of the 144 Core words available on the Unity device from PRC, and their own sheet of paper. They could either choose to use the core words provided to them by the company, or make their own sheets with core words. Once everyone was done, we had our own quiz competition, and each had to take a turn being the team member who was unable to speak except for using their core words.
I love the words they chose as their own core
vocabulary. When they thought of the words they'd want to use on a day to day basis, and what they'd want to have easy, quick access to, they came up with words that are definitely missing from the official Unity or Words for Life pages. Words like "Thingy-thing", "blah, blah, blah", "Idea!", "bahhhh", which absolutely reflect the language of a fifth grader.