Every baby is a gift, even if the wrapping is a little different.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Reading and Down Syndrome

Last night I went to the open house for our middle school so I could meet my kids' teachers. One of the classes offered is called Kids-to-Kids. It's a special education, center-based class for kids who have special needs. Kids without special needs can sign up for the class to serve as helpers, mentors, and friends of those with special needs.

Seven of my kids have worked in this class and they have all loved it. I think it's an excellent way for typical kids to meet and mingle with those with special needs. It helps typical kids see beyond themselves and serve others.

I met a young man last night who has Down syndrome. His mom taught him to read and she said he loves to read. Another young man in the class, also with DS, reads. I was so happy to hear about it because I really want my son to read. Reading is such a wonderful thing and I hope he'll be able to enjoy it.

He already recognizes many sight words and I am doing a specific reading program with him that's designed for kids with DS. I spoke to his teacher for his online schooling program and she's enrolling him in an individualized reading program that will not only track his skills, but give him work relevant to his skills. We'll know exactly where his strengths and weaknesses are. I'm very excited. I intend to do all in my power to get him reading so he can enjoy all the stories out there.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Starting School

I've enrolled my son in an online school this year. It's the same program he did last year. He seemed to do well and he really enjoyed the technology part of it.

I plan to supplement it with my own reading program designed for children with Down syndrome. I will also supplement his school learning with sound cards to help him with his verbal skills.

Our plan is to enroll him in the local public school next year but we want him to be able to verbally communicate much better so that's what I'll work on with him throughout this year.

I was surprised last year by all that he learned through this online program. Yesterday and today we've been doing some review and he's retained quite a bit. One of the fallacies I've heard about kids with DS is that they can't really learn. So not true. My son has learned, and knows, his letters, numbers, many sight words, concepts such as in and out and up and down. He is now spelling his name orally. He can definitely learn and anyone who thinks differently is just wrong.

I'm looking forward to this school year to see what he'll learn and how he'll grow. Mostly, I'm hoping he'll be more verbal by the end of the year so that he can go to public school and be able to communicate with his peers and teachers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Speech Therapist Impressions

We met with a new speech therapist yesterday and I must say I was very impressed. She was very attentive to my son. She was patient and gave him such positive reinforcement.

She tested him on sounds and his ability to join more than one sound. He did pretty well. He actually made sounds I hadn't heard him make before. Each time he made the right sound, or even attempted the sound, she gave him a sticker. He started to get a little silly by putting his feet up on the table, but she was very kind and patient with him.

She seemed to be impressed that he kept eye contact with her and focused on the activity she was doing (except when he put his feet on the table). He has a long attention span if it's something that interests him--just like the rest of us. I know that my attention span is that of a three-year-old unless I'm interested. She did a good job of keeping him interested by moving to the floor, giving him train tracks to build for a train, and having him give her high fives.

She showed us some of her materials, including a CD with songs that encourage making sounds, and I am so, so excited for the possibilities. I felt like she was very tuned in to my son and very knowledgeable about what we can do to help him use more verbal skills. She's so enthusiastic and I am grateful we found her.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Speech Therapist

Today we are meeting with a new speech therapist for an evaluation. I've been in email contact with her and am excited to meet her. She asked for a video recording of my son in his own environment so she could see how he communicates. She also asked me to provide her with a list of words he says and words he signs. So far, she's asked for more information on him than his previous therapists.

Of course, my son is such a performer that as soon as he saw the camera recording him he started acting silly for it. I did finally get him spelling his name, singing the ABCs, reading a book with sign language, playing with toys that were talking to each other, and doing his favorite thing: playing with his fingers. He likes to use his fingers as people and make them talk to each other and chase each other.

It's hard sometimes not to get frustrated that my son isn't speaking more, but when I look back over the last year or so, I can see a dramatic improvement. He isn't carrying on verbal conversations but he's using more words and trying many more sounds. He's also using more signs. He's definitely progressed in his communication skills and in his verbal skills. I just get impatient at times and wish he'd start talking and tell me what's on his mind.

I'm looking forward to working with a new therapist and hope she'll provide me with definitive things to work on at home with him.