John is a 17 year old male student who has Down Syndrome. No
information pertaining to specific medical diagnoses or tests pertaining to cognitive
functioning were made available for the purpose of this project. All health information is
based on verbal assertions from the teacher of record and his mother.
John communicates through gestures, body language and limited ASL and speech.
He received hearing aids three years ago but has not received speech therapy to
strengthen verbal communication skills since then. His mother expressed a desire for him
to pursue speech-language therapy with the goal that he would be able to communicate
with individuals not familiar with his current speech patterns and pronunciation.
Additionally, she stated regret that he has had no formal ALS training because she
believes he has shown great aptitude at understanding and being understood through this
mode of communication. His motor abilities are strong. He has participated in karate
and musicals and is able to write, use an iPad and perform self-care functions
John has participated in home, school, and community settings in a variety of ways.
At school he participates in theater, choir and social functions. Outside of school he has
studied Karate and regularly participates in church functions. At home, he engages with
his parents and large extended family. His mother identified “a sense of responsibility”
as something she feels should be enriched so that he may participate more fully in adult
life. At school, she would like him to spend more time on schoolwork and communicate
where he is going or would like to go. Currently, he leaves the classroom and his
whereabouts are often unknown. At home, she would like him to gain independent living
skills. She expressed a plan to create his own apartment in the basement or with an older
sibling in order to prepare him for the possibility of moving into a group home or other
appropriate living situation. In all areas, she believes that his concept of money is a
hindrance. She stated that he does not “value” money and she would like him to be able
to make purchases for himself. Currently, his father makes most purchases for him. She
stated a strong desire to see John earn and retain a part-time job and leadership role in
I was very pleased with the COACH interview process for this student. Being
able to begin the interview by introducing the COACH process and goals was a helpful
way to provide structure and clarity to our meeting. In effect, I was able to assert from
the beginning that this interview would focus on topics related to adult living. Using the
introduction from the COACH manual kept the interview from being dominated by
childhood or current high school concerns.
I wish that I had had more than 30 minutes to conduct my interview. I feel that the
parent and I could have uncovered more important insights if we had been able to do
more of the process. However, even in a truncated interview I was able to ask questions
that made is mother say, “I’ve never thought of that before!” I hope the interview has
sparked an interest in exploring future plans. Additionally, all of the insights and goals
that I took back to his teacher of record were new information for her and she has expressed
the intention of integrating them into his curriculum.