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Figuring out how to reach a student

Students with special needs can be difficult to figure out, so it's always exciting when I make progress in finding a technique that works.  For instance, I have a little 1st grader, I'll call him George, who has a very hard time speaking, expressing himself, and basically having confidence.  If you ask him to repeat a sentence before he writes it, most of the time he will say he can't remember, even the first word!  I tried something different on him the other day, because in the past I've noticed that out of the blue he will remember a whole sentence after only one or two repeats.  I told him the sentence, repeated it when he said he couldn't remember, then told him to write it while I stepped out to the restroom.  When I came back he had all but one word correct!  I told his teacher about this discovery, and she agreed that he tends to look for you to give him the clues over and over, but when you're not there, look what can happen.