In August 1977, I started my first job as a SLP in the schools, working at a center-based school for children with severe disabilities.   I was one of several new SLPs that year. At our first department meeting, our supervisor (Larry B) gave each of us a green plastic folder labeled “Pick-Me-Uppers for Downer-Days.” He instructed us to file away every note of encouragement that we received. He told us to pull out this folder and start reading them whenever we had a hard or difficult day.

I still have my folder and I am glad to say that it is full. In 2015, most of my notes of encouragement come as email or text messages. Very few people take the time to actually write out a nice note and mail it.

I’ve decided to change that this school year.

As part of AAC professional development of school personnel, I’m making a commitment to write at least 2 notes of encouragement every month for the 2015 – 2016 school year.   I’m going to use nice stationary, my good calligraphy pens, and pretty stamps! I might even slip something fun into select notes – like a gift card! That means I have to keep my eyes and ears open – and my heart and mind focused on being grateful for all the AAC work done by teachers, assistants, therapists, principals, bus drivers, janitors, and lunch ladies!

I challenge you to join me in the “The Pick-Me-Uppers for Downer-Days Challenge.” Commit to writing at least 2 notes of encouragement every month for the 2015-2016 school year.  That’s only 18 notes – very do-able!

  • Find an assistant who might be struggling to understand how to use a student’s AAC device in class and give that person a word of encouragement.
  • Write a note to a parent who might feel like no one at school appreciates how hard it is to keep up with all the therapy and school schedules – and acknowledge to him/her that you see how hard they are working to help his/her child.
  • Slip a nice note into your principal’s mailbox thanking her/him for creating a culture of communication at the school that values the use of AAC.

Let’s unleash the power of encouragement this school year!