By Kim Hiday, Owner of McLean Speech & Language
Whether a dog lover or not, you’ve got to admit that pooches can work magic with kids.
Meet Yoda, who spends many of her days at Oakwood and is owned by McLean Speech & Language, the speech therapy organization that works in house with Oakwood students.
Yoda, a Great Pyrenees-Australian Shepherd mix, is a frequent presence in the halls of Oakwood. As a therapy dog, Yoda exudes calm, patience, and is always seeking to find someone who needs a gentle “hello.”
She often visits students in their classrooms during Communication Classes, and the students know they can always look forward to “Yoda Time” when they complete the instruction portion of their class.
As they line up to transition to their next class or to go outside, Yoda is often seen as the celebrity in residence. The students are quick to notice her and say “Hello Yoda!” and then pass the message “Yoda is here” to the next student so they, too, can greet her as they walk by.
Yoda’s work includes providing calm to anyone who needs it, teaching social skills (kind words, calm body, calm voice). She also follows sign language, so if a student does not want to use their words, a simple sign will do (come, sit, stay/wait, listen).
In just these two short weeks of this year, Yoda has won over many hearts by providing a sense of calm to several of our new students who were experiencing anxiety over beginning the year at a new school during this time of pandemic. She truly is a beloved member of the Oakwood community.