Solidarity & Solutions in The Down Syndrome Community

What app are you using to teach your child to read? How are you addressing aberrant behaviors? What math curriculum are they using at school? How did you get her to _____ (fill in the blank)? Can I see your ABA discreet trial program for _____? How did you get that into your IEP? Is there research to back this up?

We seek out other parents of children who have the same diagnosis as ours – acknowledging that no two children with Down syndrome are exactly the same, but knowing they don’t call it a SYNDROME for nothing! Deep down we know there are similarities… so we ask other parents how they got there, what they did, what helped, what didn’t and why do they think it worked? We interact, we tell our best child-with-a-disability-accomplishing-something-amazing/funny stories… and our worst! We open our hearts and share our troubles, our strengths and our weak spots. We admit our failings and try to find ways to shore up what we’re able to do against the tide of things we’re “supposed” to be doing for our children. And we share our victories as we share our pictures of the beautiful children we love and will do anything for… Including missing their first performance in a school skit because we have to be at this conference to learn how best to educate them. In my defense, I didn’t know until Thursday that there was a show because it was a Mother’s Day surprise. And, since I could not renege on my commitment to attend Friday’s conference, I sent Grandma and Aunt Patti in my stead… (Something, I’m told, I need to do more often to give myself a “break.”)  To be truthful, I wanted desperately to be in both places and if there were less driving time between the two I might have bent over backwards (or driven really fast) to do a little of both… but this is NY and traffic doesn’t allow for that sort of thing between here and there!

So, I spent the day at a wonderful conference — “Meeting Our Full Potential: Meeting the Educational Needs of Children with Down Syndrome” – held at Queens College and sponsored by the LIU Center for Community Inclusion and DSAF. I had the extraordinary and long-awaited privilege of hearing Dr. Sue Buckley, internationally renowned expert on educating children with Down syndrome, talk about her 40+ years of experience in researching the developmental-educational needs of people with Down syndrome. Dr. Buckley is with Down Syndrome Education International (DSEInternational). There were no gimmicks, no potions, nothing to buy except that extensive research has given her an in depth glimpse at how our children with Down syndrome really learn… and, most importantly, that OUR CHILDREN ARE CAPABLE OF LEARNING — A LOT! — IF WE TEACH THEM THE WAY THEY LEARN and not according to some standardized, antiquated curriculum or methodology that doesn’t produce positive results in children who happen to have an extra 21st chromosome.

I love attending a good educational conference on Down syndrome… as much for the fact-based information the “experts” impart as to find solace with and seek out the wisdom of those mothers walking this path ahead of me! Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to share tidbits of the information I gathered and the research that backs it here and in my blog, Walk on the Happy Side. Still, if physically attending isn’t possible, I highly recommend you go directly to the source at Down Syndrom Education International where past conference sessions are available to watch free of charge post-event… Though you miss the invaluable comeraderie of other mothers more like you than different, at least you’ll have the expert’s point-of-view!

2 Responses to Solidarity & Solutions in The Down Syndrome Community