Kate George-Melson

COACH summary

MAT 682

Fall 2014

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 

independently.  

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 

his church.

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.