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Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome


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  • 1. Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome By Amy Dunaway ©2010 – All Rights ReservedMy Blog: 1
  • 2. Table of Contents1 Introduction 42 Why Homeschooling 53 Homeschooling and Down Syndrome 64 FAQs – Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome and other Special Needs 85 Learning and Down Syndrome 106 Individualized Education Plans 137 Learning the Basics – Reading Writing and Arithmetic 168 Reading and Down Syndrome – The Early Years 189 Reading and Down Syndrome – The Primary Years 2010 Motivation and Errorless Learning 2111 Routines – The Groove 2412 Visual and Verbal Memory And Down Syndrome 2613 Down Syndrome and Challenging Behavior 2914 Homeschooling and Down Syndrome – “The Reluctant Learner,” The Homeschooling Parent 3115 Homeschooling and Down Syndrome – “The Reluctant Learner,” The Child 3316 Homeschool Burnout 3517 The Homeschooling Community - Supporting Families with Children with Special Needs 38 2
  • 3. Appendix 41 A. Prayer for Homeschooler with Children with Special Needs 42 B. Reading Recommendations 43 C. Math Curricula Suggestions 45 D. Curriculum Resources 46 E. Software Recommendations 47 F. Resources for Speech, Language and Communication 49 G. Resources - Homeschooling and Down Syndrome 50 3
  • 4. Chapter One IntroductionOur family began its homeschooling journey in In my research about education and Down1992 with the birth of our daughter with Down syndrome I discovered a common theme in severalsyndrome. Reagan is now almost 16 years old and books and research articles – targeted etiology-thriving in the homeschooling environment. She is based interventions.a well-adjusted, delightful young lady. Children with Down syndrome face etiology-I have faced many challenges through the years on specific (specific to Down syndrome) strengths andour homeschooling journey but the greatest was weaknesses – different from other causes ofunlocking the key to learning for Reagan. We intellectual impairment. These strengths anddecided early in her life that the public school weaknesses have become known as the specific (orsystem in our area could not meet her learning typical) learning profile of children with Downneeds and began our homeschooling journey. syndrome. Targeted etiology-based interventionsChildren with Down syndrome commonly have look to those strengths and weaknesses to develop aauditory processing challenges with impaired short- plan for intervention based on what is known aboutterm memory, difficulty with attention, delayed how children with Down syndrome learn.language acquisition and articulation issues,impaired cognition, and gross/fine motor delays - Children with Down syndrome learn differentlysignificant issues. than typically developing children. To think that children with Down syndrome are just “slowI, like most other parents who have children with learners” is to do them a great disservice. Thespecial needs, spent a great deal of time in research learning profile of children with Down syndromeabout my childs condition. The more I learned, the clearly defines their learning differences.greater confidence I felt that I could parent thischild and meet her learning needs by As time goes by, more and more research points tohomeschooling her. the success that comes with targeted etiology-based interventions – yet mainstream education has notHomeschooling is a natural extension of what followed suit. For the most part, they have failed toparents do to care for and nurture their childs embrace our children‟s learning differences andgrowth and development - homeschooling begins at adapt classroom learning to their needs.birth. A child with Down syndrome needs syndromespecific instruction in skill acquisition and The impact of this knowledge I have gathered in mydevelopment in areas that are often taken for research on our homeschool has been tremendous.granted by parents of typically developing children Learning has occurred at a more rapid rate. Anydue to the challenges they face. frustration that comes with the work that must be done to learn has dramatically decreased. AttentionDown syndrome is the most well researched skills grew. Difficult behaviors and avoidance typesyndrome which causes intellectual impairment. As behaviors are mostly gone as they pertain toa result, much is known about the way children with schooling!Down syndrome learn but it takes an informationjunkie and a great deal of persistence to find it. Iconfess to being an information addict which hasblessed our lives in the knowledge I have gained. 4
  • 5. Chapter Two Why HomeschoolingWhen my husband and I started our family, we had education that targets their specific learning needsmany discussions about homeschooling. Initially, it and to provide an education that will not sacrificepiqued my interest as a rather novel idea - totally academic learning for life skills and "socialization."foreign to me. With time, research, much prayer and Many families leave the public school system afterthe birth of a child with significant special needs, I unsatisfactory academic progress for which theywas completely convinced that homeschooling was saw no other option than to educate their child atthe only path for our family. Today, I am passionate home. I even know of a few cases of abuse as aabout homeschooling my children and the result of public school placement. I moderate threehomeschooling movement. I love to share the yahoo groups which target families homeschoolingbenefits of homeschooling with anyone who shows children with Down syndrome and have listened toan interest in our lifestyle. many, many stories over the years. The system (early intervention and/or the public school system)I think the best way to show the benefits of has difficulty meeting the needs of our children.homeschooling to others is to have my children out The biggest lesson I learned when we participatedin the community. Most people are quite impressed in the system was that it primarily seeks to servewith their behavior and their ability to interact with itself – sad, but true in our experience and that ofpeople of all ages. many others.In my opinion, the greatest benefit of There are good stories too - wonderful placementshomeschooling to our family is that God does not and caring professionals. We did not get thathave to be compartmentalized in the lives of my experience. We met professionals with lowchildren. We can learn about and uphold the expectations, who cared little for the individual theytraditions of our faith at home. Holy Scripture is a were providing services for and could not seepart of our everyday life. We pray together. We beyond her diagnosis of Down syndrome.grow together in Christ as we make decisions andimplement them. Our Triune God is celebrated in Faith Concernsour house and looked to when we face Why don‟t more Christians dont homeschool theirdifficulties...and praised for the blessings we children? This article gives a scary picture of whatreceive. children face in the public schools today:The National Home Education Research Institute "80% of Christian families send their children tosays the key reasons for home education are the public schools where their faith is attacked. Basedtransmission of beliefs and values to children, close on the studys findings, it appears that their childrenfamily relationships, controlled and positive peer are the ones being "evangelized" by the religion ofsocial interaction, quality academics, alternative secular humanism. More than half of their Christianapproaches to learning and safety. I think all these teens believe Jesus sinned and only 9% hold tofactors played into our decision to homeschool our moral absolutes, while 83% of children fromchildren. committed Christian families attending public schools adopt a Marxist-Socialist worldview,Why Homeschool Children with Special Needs? reports the group."Families are educating their children with specialneeds in their own homes to provide them with an 5
  • 6. Our hope is that by keeping my children home fortheir education, that we are raising strong disciplesfor Christ - placing the Lord first in their lives,strong in their knowledge of Holy Scripture andjoyfully fulfilling the Great Commission. 6
  • 7. Chapter Three Homeschooling and Down SyndromeOnce we made the decision to educate our children children with Down syndrome - different fromat home, I read everything I could get my hands on typically developing children and children withabout homeschooling. other causes of developmental delays.As we moved through our homeschooling journey, Today, there is a great deal of support for familiesmuch of what I learned about homeschooling and homeschooling children with Down syndromeDown syndrome I learned the hard way by working primarily found on the internet. For morewith my daughter. Initially, I didnt have Internet information:access and therefore no access to information onhow children with Down syndrome learn or even Homeschooling and Down Syndromeothers homeschooling families with children with A family oriented list.Down syndrome. Professionals were not reallyhelpful because they had little specific knowledge Home Education and Down Syndromeabout Down syndrome. A list for committed homeschooling families that focuses on the special learning needs of childrenWe engaged a consultant with a Masters in Special with Down syndrome - resources, curriculum,Education as an educational consultant. He gave us strategies for teaching etc.suggestions for curriculum and general informationabout learning in children with cognitive challenges Homeschooling Kids with Down Syndrome- and information about academic and A list comprised of only homeschoolers withdevelopmental skills progression in typically children with Down syndrome. It is a closed list butdeveloping children. He also gave me the if you are interested just send me an e-mail.confidence to homeschool our daughter with specialneeds but did not have the answers on how to National Challenged Homeschoolers Associatedovercome the challenges we faced. It wasnt really Network (NATHHAN), a Christian support networkthe fault of the professionals we worked with - it for those homeschooling children with specialtakes a long time for research to trickle down to needs, also offers e-mail support for those of usthose working in the field. In fact, with Reagan, I homeschooling children with Down syndrome.had to unlearn much of what I knew about Send me an e-mail and Ill give you the contacthomeschooling and learn with her, about her & her information.unique needs. I now have a room (seriously) filledwith research into how children with Downsyndrome learn along with my regularhomeschooling stuff!The fact is children with Down syndrome learndifferently. Simply put, they are wired differently.Methods used for typically developing children mayeventually work I suppose, but to lessen frustrationall around and increase learning potential (and keepmotivation high) they need their specific learningprofile targeted for success. The learning profile is alist of strengths and weaknesses common to 7
  • 8. The Benefits of Homeschooling the Child with Down Syndrome and other Special Needs The child with special needs can receive the  The parent can pick and choose social one-on-one teaching that will enable them to opportunities. Homeschooled children are grow academically. This cannot be matched not limited to socializing with only their in the public school setting. peers. They tend to socialize with children and adults of all ages for a wide variety of The program can specifically target the experiences. Homeschooled children are child‟s relative strengths and tailor the less affected by peer pressure. child‟s education in such a way that increases learning potential.  Character development and behavior issues Homeschooling also allows us to teach can be dealt with by providing an subjects not commonly offered in the public environment where limits and consequences school system. are consistently enforced. Homeschooling can offer atmosphere where the choices and The program designed for them by the consequences are articulated as necessary to person who knows their needs intimately. make the best choice available and wrong Your home program will best suit their choices can be discussed and dealt with individual needs. You can create a balanced consistently. program that does not sacrifice academic skills for life skills.  The spiritual needs of children with special needs can be met best in our own homes The child can learn at his/her own pace to where they will be exposed to the love and allow their needs to be met properly. word of God. In a world where many of our Concepts can be taught with the repetition children seen as "disposable" and somehow necessary for mastery using a wide variety less worthy, they need to know that God has of materials ensuring success appropriate to a plan for them and loves them the childs needs and developmental age. unconditionally. God does not make mistakes! "For you created my inmost The child will have the opportunity for being; you knit me together in my mothers successful learning experiences that will womb. Praise you because I am fearfully motivate them to develop persistence in and wonderfully made; your works are learning difficult concepts. wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14, NIV. The child learns academic and functional life skills in the best of all venues-real life. Fractions are “important” when it comes  The health benefits are tremendous. time to share a pizza! Children exposed to Early Intervention in group settings and the public school system are constantly exposed to every The child with special needs can learn where viral/bacterial illness present in the they are safe from peer ridicule. Many community. Homeschooled children with children with special needs are the object of special needs can avoid many of these peer ridicule because of processing common illnesses until they are older and difficulties, difficulty expressing better able to tolerate them. themselves, physical impairments or cognitive challenges. They can make mistakes where it is safe to do so – their own home. 8
  • 9. Chapter FourFAQs Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome and other Special NeedsOver the years, Ive been asked many questions significant special needs. There is a great deal outabout homeschooling children with special needs. I there to choose from.thought I would post the most frequently askedquestions just in case you needed to know! The longer answer: Many known syndromes and disorders are associated with known behavioralIs it legal to homeschool children with Down traits called a phenotype. These traits give us asyndrome and other special needs? profile of strengths and weaknesses that we can target to create better learning environments. ForHomeschooling is legal across the United States – example, children with autism are known to haveeven for children with special needs. The level of communication and social deficits – part of theiraccountability varies state to state so it is good to phenotype. Therefore, they need specific teachingknow the law and level of accountability of the state in social skills presented primarily visually toin which you live. impact learning.Why do parents decide to homeschool their child Homeschooling children with special needs takeswith special needs? creativity in adapting what is available to the childs relative strengths and weaknesses.Many families I know are already firmly ensconcedin the homeschooling lifestyle when their child with How about special curricula for children withspecial needs is born. Some are medically fragile. Down syndrome?Others research homeschooling knowing their childwill face obstacles to learning that may be better Down syndrome is the most researched of all causestargeted at home. Some come to homeschooling of intellectual disability. Much is known about thebecause of difficulties they have experienced in the strengths and weaknesses of children with Downpublic school system syndrome. Therefore, there are targeted interventions known to help them learn.Don’t you need special training to educate a Researchers are working to provide tools andchild with special needs? curriculum to aid learning – much of it targeting early learners.Many parents I know that have turned tohomeschooling with a degree in special education See:say that their degree is often a hindrance! In getting Bob Jones University Press Adapted Curriculumtheir degree, they are often given the big picture but (send me an e-mail for more information)it doesn‟t help them homeschool their child with See and Learnspecial needs. The parent knows their child best Numiconand know their needs. Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County Learning ProgramIs there a special curriculum for homeschoolingchildren with special needs? Where do I go for information and support?The short answer is - not really. Curriculum choices I would suggest you seek out others homeschoolingshould be based on the unique needs of each child. I children with the same diagnosis as your child. It iswould encourage you to look outside the great to have face to face support so check out yourhomeschooling world for those children with local homeschooling association. The internet is also a great place to find others for support. Yahoo 9
  • 10. Groups has a support for almost anything you can See:think of! Just type homeschooling and ____ (fill in NACD: National Association for Childthe blank with your child‟s diagnosis) into the Developmentsearch engine and you will most like find a group to Hope and a Future Linda Kaneprovide information and support. ICAN: International Christian Association of NeurodevelopmentalistsHow do I know if my child is learning? Note: I am not necessarily recommending theYou know your child best and you will become neurodevelopmental approach (lack of peer-very familiar with what they know and what they reviewed research) but many parents of childrenare learning as you see them implement the with Down syndrome and other special needs findknowledge they have learned. Many families use a their services beneficial - especially in the areas ofdevelopmental and/or academic skills inventory to reading and memory. Having not used thishelp them set goals and display learning progress. approach, I really have no opinion - just awareness of the support families get using their services.See:VORT (my favorite) Do I need legal protection?The Brigance Legal protection is a sensitive and somewhatWhere do I start? controversial subject. Homeschoolers can become a target of well-meaning public school authorities andRight where you child is functioning – then build up social workers. Homeschoolers with children withthe skills he/she has. Many families use one of the special needs can be particularly vulnerable. In myabove developmental skills inventories to gauge opinion the persecution of homeschoolers is prettywhere their child is functioning and choose rare. Research the need carefully - no one wants tocurriculum that fits their learning style. Learning be caught unaware.styles are important in children with special needsin targeting their individual learning needs. Home School Legal Defense Association Pacific Justice InstituteWhat about professionals? National Home Education Legal Defense The Rutherford InstituteI believe professionals can be an invaluableresource in supporting homeschooling families – if What about socialization?they are well educated in the child‟s diagnosis,targeted interventions….and have the child‟s best I think what most concerns most people consideringinterests at heart. We have found it most beneficial homeschooling their child with special needs is notto search the private sector for professional help. socialization (the process by which the norms andThose within the system tend to be bogged down by standards of our society are passed from onethe system and not as interested in the individual generation to another) but socializing – thewith special needs and their family. gathering for communal activities where friendships are formed. I have found the homeschoolingHave you heard of the neurodevelopmental community the most inclusive of communities andapproach? the opportunities for socializing are endless and not a problem.Many homeschoolers use neurodevelopmentalconsultants to develop very specific home programsfor their children. Neurodevelopmentalists design aprogram to build on the neurological framework tosupport skill development. This in contrast tomainstream approaches which are skills based. 10
  • 11. Chapter Five Learning and Down SyndromeWe made the decision to homeschool not long after targeted intervention (specific to the special needsReagan was born. Her birth and the diagnosis of of learners with Down syndrome) is where theDown syndrome cemented our decision to future lies in education and Down syndrome andhomeschool both girls. During that first year, I read successful learning experiences for our children ineverything I could get my hands on about our homes. Research shows it to be very promisinghomeschooling. and hopefully as awareness grows targeted intervention will increase in our early interventionEarly on, much of what I learned about programs and the public school system.homeschooling and Down syndrome I learned thehard way -- by working with Reagan. Initially, I had Targeted intervention is basically teaching to theno internet access and, therefore, no access to how child‟s learning style – a hallmark ofchildren with Down syndrome learn or even others homeschooling. In the case of children with Downhomeschooling children with Down syndrome. syndrome, this takes on greater significance.Professionals were not really helpful because they Typically developing children most often will learnhad little specific knowledge about learning and using a variety of methods. They may be primarilychildren with Down syndrome. They tended to work visual learners, primarily auditory learners orwith her based on isolated diagnoses i.e.: primarily kinesthetic learners but can adapt to a variety of methods. Children with Down syndromePhysical Therapy – hypotonia learn differently. Methods used for typicallySpeech Therapy - delayed speech developing children often slow progress in learning and decrease our children successful learning No one was looking at the big picture and what experiences.Down syndrome means to the whole child. Wecouldnt blame them though - it takes a long time A good example of targeted intervention is found infor research to trickle down to those working in the a book most parents of children with Downfield. syndrome have, Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome, by Patricia Oelwein. Her methodDuring those early years, I made lots of mistakes. In of teaching children with Down syndrome to readfact, with Reagan, I had to unlearn much of what I (matching, selecting, naming) targets their specificknew about homeschooling and learn with her, learning profile (visual learners) and utilizesabout her & her unique needs. errorless learning...and our children find success!When I finally got internet access a whole new A learning profile is basically a list of strengths andworld was opened for me. My husband worked weaknesses developed from a set of observablelong, hard hours when the girls were younger. I behavioural traits called a phenotype. Children withused the hours he was working after the girls were Down syndrome have a specific learning profilein bed for the night to research. Little by little, I different from typically developing children andamassed a great deal of information which made a children with other forms of intellectual disability.dramatic difference in our homeschool. I now havea room (seriously) filled with research into how The awareness of this profile and incorporating itchildren with Down syndrome learn along with my into our daily lives drastically improved ourregular homeschooling stuff! successful learning experiences.Ive come to the conclusion after all these years that 11
  • 12. Down Syndrome - The Typical Learning ProfileChildren with Down syndrome (Down syndrome) of sign, gestures, the written word, drawingsoften share a set of observable behavioural traits or pictures for visual cues. Learning fromknown as a phenotype. These traits are different seeing is important and effective for childrenthan seen in typically developing children and with Down syndrome.children with other causes of intellectualdisabilities. I like to look at the big picture or the  Children with Down syndrome have speechwhole child. These traits do not occur in isolation and language delays. They have relativebut influence each other and can cause obstacles to strengths in their receptive language skillslearning. and are typically able to understand far more than they can say or sign. TheirNot all children with Down syndrome will show the understanding of spoken language is oftentypical learning profile seen here but the majority underestimated due to these delays.will. I must say Reagan fits this picture perfectly! Children with Down syndrome have relativeTargeting the strengths of children with Down deficits in expressive language. Expressivesyndrome will result in a more optimal learning language skills often fall behind receptiveenvironment. Working to strengthen the weaknesses language abilities. A high incidence ofin the profile will give the child the tools to increase hearing difficulties early in life contributesfunctional competence as they grow. to speech and language delays.Children with Down syndrome often share a set of  Many are able to effectively use gestureobservable behavioural traits (phenotype) displayed (e.g., pointing, guiding) and sign languagein the following profile. Not all children will show for communication. This should be anthe typical strengths and weaknesses listed below acceptable form of preverbal communicationbut children with Down syndrome are more likely for our children with language delays. Ato share these behaviors. We can help children with small number (approximately 5%) of ourDown syndrome to learn by understanding their children with Down syndrome will betypical developmental and learning profile and nonverbal and require some kind ofteaching to their strengths. augmentative communication.  Children with Down syndrome have  Children with Down syndrome typically significant cognitive challenges. As with have strong social skills (though they may the general population, there is a wide range misread or misuse social skills at times) and in IQ levels but most operate in the mild to enjoy learning from social interaction where moderate range of mental retardation. IQ meaningful two-way communication and has limited practical value and tells us little interaction takes place. Take advantage of about functional competence. Older this strength using games and other social children with Down syndrome have mental activities to reinforce concepts and practice ages ranging from 4-6 years of age. Most skills. individuals with Down syndrome do not progress beyond the average capabilities of  Children with Down syndrome have the average 6-8 year old. auditory processing and working memory  Children with Down syndrome typically deficits making learning from listening have relative learning strengths in the areas difficult. For this reason, it is imperative of visual processing (the ability to make that information to be learned is paired with sense of information taken in with the eyes) visual cues. and visual memory (recall) skills. They learn best when information given verbally is paired with visual supports such as the use 12
  • 13.  They have delays in fine and gross motor What this really tells us is that children with Down skills. Fine motor delays may make syndrome are primarily visual learners. They have working with manipulatives and writing great difficulty learning from listening. Therefore, difficult. With time and practice, most all learning material must be paired with visuals children with Down syndrome will learn to and/or sign language as a visual cue. write legibly. Delays in gross motor skills limit a child‟s ability to explore the Reagan has always had good language skills and environment which further delays cognition. communicated her needs quite well so we had no need to learn sign language. Teaching to her visual Children with Down syndrome frequently learning style, with frequent repetition, while display challenging behaviors. They show keeping learning errorless were the keys for her in higher rates of attention problems, social consolidating concepts. Homeschooling has been withdrawal, noncompliance and compulsive such a gift to us! It has given us the ability to behaviors. From early infancy on, escape implement what the research tells us about learning and attention motivated challenging and Down syndrome. behaviors involving noncompliance and misuse of social skills are common. Challenging behaviors result in reduced learning and social opportunities. 13
  • 14. Chapter Six Individualized Education PlansEvery summer I take the time to write and event of inquiries.Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for theupcoming school year. Because my daughter has I create simple checklists for the skills/concepts weDown syndrome, she does not learn at the same are working on. When a skill/concept ispace or in the same way as typical learners. consolidated, I get the simple pleasure of dating it and checking it off!I find creating and IEP helps to keep me on trackand focused on meeting my childs needs in Sounds time consuming - Is it worth the effort?thoughtful, reasoned way. A few days during the For me, it has been a huge time saver! Yes, it doessummer focusing on setting goals, breaking down initially take time and effort to create but then Iskills - creating a plan for the coming year sharpens know we have a plan and I dont have to waste timemy sense of where we have been, all that my deciding what we are going to do, look fordaughter has accomplished and where we are going. materials, give a great deal of though to breaking down skills. Its already done!Are IEPs required for those homeschoolingchildren with special needs? Also, if you are required to report hours/daysThere is no legal requirement for homeschoolers to schooling to a state or local authority, time spentcreate an IEP for their child with special needs. working on IEPs count as school hours.Doesnt every homeschooled child have an IEP? DomainsThere is a certain amount of truth to this statement. IEPs generally include the following academicHomeschooling does provide an environment where areas or domains: Language, Reading, Math,each child receives and individualized education Perceptual Skills, Writing or Pre-writing Skills,based on how they learn and allows them to learn at Fine and Gross Motor Skills.their own pace. IEPs are intentional in thought and You can also include domains such as life skills,purposeful in achieving individualized goals for social skills, self-help skills and/or characterareas of weakness and any deficiencies in academic developmentskills. What kind of information should be on anWhy write and work with an IEP if its not homeschool IEP?required? The IEP should have the following information:Developing an IEP for children with speciallearning needs is beneficial to the parent and the 1. Present skill level or present level ofchild with special needs. performance. This can be documented on a developmental inventory.1. It allows us to plan goals for the future and waysto meet these goals. 2. Long-term goals for any areas of weakness or2. It allows us to break down goals into short-term deficiency. These should be reasonablyobjectives (more manageable pieces)to implement accomplished over the next twelve months.our plan for the child. Challenge your child-he/she will achieve goals.2. It also provides for instructional direction. What Decide what your priorities are with realisticare we going to concentrate on this day, week, expectations. Long-term goals are generalized,month, year. The IEP allows us to address how we broad-based such as "Charlotte will increase ingoing to teach skills and concepts. receptive language skills." There may be more than3. It is documentation of your childs progress in the one long-term goal per domain or skill area. If you 14
  • 15. meet your goals for the year, set up more goals. An skills/concepts need more repetition to cement theIEP should be fluid, always moving forward. Do not skill/concept or look at whether or not we can movebe afraid of moving a goal that has not been reached on to a new skill/concept. Ive been using the sameinto the next years IEP. master schedule/journal format since we began formally homeschooling. Once it is set up all that3. Short-term objectives to meet the long-term needs to be done is fill in the blanks!goals. These should be specific, concrete, well-defined objectives tailored to meet your childs For each day I list:individual needs and based on their long-term goals.These are the daily steps you take to educate your 1. Subject and resource/curriculumchild. Each objective that you meet brings you 2. Objectivecloser to your long-term goal. Use these short-term 3. Brief evaluationgoals as benchmarks to show the mastery level your 4. Skill/Concept in the review cycle (unique to thechild is expected to have at certain times of the child) for the subject.year. We do not necessarily stick to the schedule4. Methods and materials to meet these goals and absolutely but it is our guideline for the day.objectives. These could be items/games made bythe home educator, specific curriculum or other Each IEP is unique for each child to meet yourresource to implement your individualized program. childs needs but you will probably find that children with Down Syndrome have common5. An evaluation to measure progress. You need learning differences. No one IEP will be appropriateto define how you will know your child is making for all children with Down syndrome. The IEPprogress. With some thought most skills can be process will help move your child toward maximumbroken down as a task analysis. Task analysis independence by keeping focus on your goals forinvolves identifying a skill, determining an entry the childs academic and functional growth.behavior, analyzing the skill and recording thesequence of task events into small observable Developmental Inventories/Scalescomponents and sequencing the skill. Some skills Children with Down syndrome usually have verycan be observed and recorded in a daily journal or scattered skills – age appropriate in some domainslog. Written tests may work for the older or able and delayed in others They tend to learn best whenchild. We must be careful not to compare our we build on the skills they have and target theirchildren with other children. Let us measure their interests.progress as individuals. Measure your child againsttheir own baseline. A developmental scale or inventory easily lets us find out where our children function and let us set6. List of resources or curriculum used for the goals (short-term & long-term) to aid us in theirschool year including resources for outside growth and development and academic skills.therapies such as occupational therapy, speechtherapy, or physical therapy. I have always used the developmental inventoriesSchedule/Journal and curriculum available from VORT. They areI have found it helpful to display our short-term most famous for their HELP (Hawaii Earlyobjectives in a a weekly schedule/journal that I Learning Profile) series. They have inventories andwork on every Sunday afternoon. Using a master curriculum for all ages and stages --- even one forcreated with my word processor (to keep things children with special learning needs. The BCPsimple) it can be accomplished with little time and covers the developmental ages 1 - 14.effort. I base our daily schedule the outcomes of mybrief daily evaluations for the previous week and on I have been very happy with VORT through themy vision for the coming week. I ask myself what years. I mainly use it as a tool for setting goals but 15
  • 16. have used the curriculum to break down skills for help for skill development. I have to admit I foundteaching. It is a great tool if you feel the need to the cost of The Brigance prohibitive.write your own IEP. I like to write an IEP to keepME on track.I know other families who use The Brigance. TheBrigance is a screening tool only and doesn‟t offerResources Resources for GoalsHome Schooling Children with Special needs by HELP Series and Assessment Strands from VORTSharon Hensly BCP Instructional Activities and Record BookletStrategies for Struggling Learners; A Guide for the from VORTTeaching Parent (The VORT products are my favorite)By Joe P. Sutton (ISBN: 0-96456840-3) Out of The Briganceprint but available at many libraries. You can rent this from Homeschool Legal DefenseThe IEP Planner by Jim and Debby Mills AssociationHelps for Special Education Teachers, Curriculum Skills Evaluation by Rebecca Avery, ISBN:and Activities to Promote Basic Skill Development 1580958842, Out of Eileen Shaum Learning Objectives for Grades Kindergarten Through Eight, published by Hewitt Homeschooling 16
  • 17. Chapter Seven Learning the Basics – Reading, Writing and ArithmeticI‟ve given you lots of information on how children Reading is a relative strength for children withwith Down syndrome learn and resources for Down syndrome. Given their visual nature, theycurricula (more in the appendices) that have been often find early success in sight word reading.know to have success. When it comes to learning, Success in reading is associated with advances inour children‟s progress is quite dependent on our cognitive ability, vocabulary, grammar and visualmethods of teaching. Teaching to the child‟s and short-term memory. Despite those wonderfullearning strengths, using errorless learning – benefits we should teach reading for the sake ofespecially in the early years - will lead you on the reading itself. Reading contributes greatly topath to learning success. functional competence and will provide pleasure throughout the individual‟s lifetime.For emphasis, I‟ll repeat what has been found to beimportant in working with children with Down There is a profile within the typical learning profilesyndrome: (strengths and weaknesses) for children with Down syndrome for reading.Visual aids in the form of pictures, drawings, text,manipulatives, and/or sign language. Reading profile for children with DownHands on activities work well for young learners syndrome:Errorless learning/teaching is essential forsuccessful learning experiences StrengthLanguage - use language they know and Word identificationspecifically teach new vocabularyScaffold skills - build on what they know, Weaknessesscaffolding in new skills/conceptsBreak down skills/concepts into more manageable Word attack (decoding) skillschunksPractice step until mastered. ComprehensionAnticipate spending more time on each I‟ll go into more detail on reading and Downskill/concept than with a typically developing child syndrome in the next chapter.Repetition - frequent repetition necessary forconsolidating skillsReview of skills/conceptsPositive attitude - bring a positive attitude to the Mathlearning environment. The acquisition of math skills is known to beApplication of these methods will lead you and your difficult for children with Down syndrome. Theychild to growth in skill/concept development, do far better in acquiring reading skills than withknowledge math skills. DeAnna Horstmeier, Ph.D., author of Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome andReading Other Hands-On Learners, found her adult son with Down syndrome was more handicapped by hisDid you know that it is only within the last 20-25 deficits in math than any other factor!years that attaining some level of reading ability hasbecome a goal for children with Down syndrome? So, what are we to do as homeschooling parents?How far we have come! There is very little research available regarding 17
  • 18. math skills and Down syndrome. Our fall back is letter a scripted plan for the letter. Every time thethe above list! child practices a letter, use the same words in the same order to make the letter – a rehearsal strategyLearning math requires carefully structured lessons – to guide them in writing the letter. Soon they willwith skills/concepts broken down to teach step-by- be repeating the script and writing the letterstep, demonstrated, and then practiced daily until independently!the step or skill is mastered – and then the step orskill/concept should go into a review cycle. I have never pushed Reagan in her writingRepeated use will keep skills fresh and easily skills. We do it every day until I feel she has givenrecalled. me her best. When she gets tired, I stop. Writing is difficult for children with Down syndrome I wantIt is very important to specifically teach the writing to be an enjoyable activity. I give her worklanguage of math. The language of math can be that is meaningful to her everyday life to keep hervery confusing. Look at how many ways we speak interest in the skills needed as an adult.of the answers in working addition problems – inall, altogether, sum, and total. We need to be very If your child finds writing to be frustrating, dointentional in our teaching to reduce confusion in consider beginning keyboarding skills early. This isour young learners. a world of electronic data transfer so those keyboarding skills will be quite important to ourChildren with Down syndrome learn very little children.incidentally – especially when it comes to math. Asmath becomes meaningful and useful in everyday Back to the Basicslife, the child‟s interest will grow. They will needplenty of opportunities to learn and ongoing Learning the basics for children with Downmeaningful practice. syndrome means sticking to the basics for longer than with a typically developing child. It takesWriting much longer (and many more learning trials) for theI once read from a physical therapist that a typically child with Down syndrome to progress indeveloping child has to write a letter approximately skill/concept development. Structured, daily130 times for it to become rote. Due to fine motor instruction with lots of repetition will lift ourissues I would expect children with Down children beyond their mental age. Older childrensyndrome to take much longer for letter writing to with Down syndrome generally have mental agesbecome rote. Handwriting without Tears is a that range from 4-6 years of age and adultswonderful writing program for our children with generally have the capabilities of an average of 6-8Down syndrome. When teaching letters, give each year old. 18
  • 19. Chapter Eight Reading and Down Syndrome – Early LearnersTeaching Reading Early (0-3) The technique is easy and only takes a few minutesDid you know reading and children with Down a day. There is no need to buy expensive programssyndrome is a controversial subject? Sounds pretty – all you need is a bold marker and poster board.benign doesnt it? Families tend to fall into twogroups - those who teach reading early and those The following method is familiar to those who usewho wait until a more typical time in a childs life - the neurodevelopmental approach and excerptedthe elementary school years. I thought I might share from Teach Your Baby to Read by Glenn Doman.what Ive learned about reading and Downsyndrome and explore the different options. Length of play (reading flashcards) is very short. At first it is played 3 times a day. All sessions must endMuch of our time during infant and toddler years as before the child wants to stop. This way the childparents of children with Down syndrome is will enjoy the sessions and want to play the readinggenerally focused on health issues. Approximately game and the parent is nurturing vs. destroying the45-50 percent of our children are born with heart childs natural desire to learn.defects. About another 7 percent are born withgastrointestinal defects. Many present with feeding Materialsissues. Respiratory issues are prevalent due tolowered immune response. Most of our energies as Stiff white cardboard (poster board) – ready madeparents during those early years are focused on note cards are just too small.getting our children beyond these health issues to a Words should be lettered w/felt tip maker – red ishealthier place for our children. recommended.. Printing should be neat, clear, and have consistentDuring the infant/toddler years the focus of most plain lettering style, large letters (5 in by 4 in withprofessionals and parents is on the most obvious 1/2 in between letters.delays – delays in gross motor skills. Our children Margins should be at least 1/2 in. all around.are normally delayed in reaching the typical Printing should be lower-case letters unless themilestones of the infant/toddler years. They sit at an word is a proper noun.average age of 11 months and walk on average at 26months. The First Step (Visual Differentiation)Speech Therapists during the infancy and toddler First words:years are focused on feeding skills and/or sign Pick 15 words of high interest or familiar, startlanguage skills. How many parents are counseled to w/mommy, daddy, names of family members, pets,begin teaching reading? favorite foods, objects in the house, favorite activities.I really want to encourage every parent who has achild with Down syndrome to consider beginning to Sessionsteach their child to read during late infancy and thetoddler years. Because our children are so visual Pick a place with little/no distractions.they easily learn to read words syndrome that are Work only when the child is in a good mood.meaningful (words they can say or sign) to them. In Hold up the word mommy, say "This saysthe long run, teaching reading early eases their entry mommy." Give the child no ore description and dointo the world of literacy and gives them a great not elaborate. Hold up the next card, daddy, andhead start! repeat the process. Show 3 other words. Do not ask 19
  • 20. your child to repeat the words. After the fifth word,give your child a hug & kiss with lots of praise. Another early reading tool for birth to age 3 – LoveRepeat session 3 times/day, at least 1/2 hour apart. and LearningSessions should last no more than 3 minutes.Always end the session before the child is ready to Though it is convenient to have ready madeend it. curriculum for reading, the cost of these programs is a bit out of reach for many families - especiallyHow hard does this sound! Domans book will give during economic downturns as we are experiencingyour greater detail on how to proceed with this now. Doman‟s reading method is cheap, easy to usemethod. Several people have developed materials and successful!using Doman‟s method to assist the parent inteaching their children to read includingeReadingPro. 20
  • 21. Chapter Nine Reading and Down Syndrome – Primary YearsElementary School Age with each word from beginning to end. Struggling will lead to distaste for reading and most likely leadAs I‟ve said earlier, I did not have internet access to avoidance and behavioural issues and we don‟twhen my daughter with Down syndrome was in her want to go there! Nurturing a love of learning andinfant/toddler years. I did not have access to keeping them successful will keep them cominginformation about early reading and Down back for more.syndrome so we began teaching reading when MissR was about 5. Teaching Reading to Children with Another thing I might mention related to reading areDown Syndrome by Patricia Oelwein was my first those reading readiness skills. Most are related topurchase from the Woodbine House series Topics in auditory processing issues – a definite weakness forDown Syndrome. This book was the first book to most of our kiddos with Down syndrome. Most ofgive me insight into how children with Down our children will learn to read without them!syndrome learn and began my quest for moreinformation specific to learning and children with Back to my learning profile and children with DownDown syndrome syndrome -- research suggests a distinct profile of areas of strengths & weaknesses within literacyAs most of you know, Teaching Reading to skills in children with Down syndrome. This profileChildren with Down Syndrome, uses a combined includes stronger word identification skill, poorerapproach - sight words moving into phonics in the word attack skills and poorer comprehension.form of word families. The games used in the books Obstacles for sure but not something we can‟t workare interesting and fun – a perfect method for older on throughout their education!children. This method uses errorless learning so ourchildren not only have fun but they are successful. Again, I‟m not suggesting that phonics are unimportant, as our children get older they will useHomeschooling moms tend to be purists – phonics those skills to help them identify words hey may notis the only way for their kids! I had one mother say know. Every strategy we teach them will beshe was purposefully not teaching her child with important to their functional competence as adults.Down syndrome sight words – which made me very Just be sure to keep moving forward where they aresad. I want to suggest that perhaps we put our pride successful – for most children sight word reading -behind us when teaching our little ones with Down while teaching phonics!syndrome to read. Don‟t get me wrong, I‟m notsuggesting that we don‟t teach phonics to our An excellent sight word reading program used bychildren with Down syndrome. I am saying that we many homeschooling moms (and the publicneed to consider that our children with Down education system) is the Edmark Reading Program.syndrome have auditory processing issues – they Edmark uses errorless learning to teach childrenhave difficulty with remembering and sequencing with special needs to read – guaranteed success forsounds vs. remembering what they can see. most children with Down syndrome. The softwareChildren with Down syndrome tend to have version makes a homeschooling moms life so muchdifficulty blending sounds because they often have easier! For more reading curricula suggestions seeshort-term memory difficulties. Word families this.remove that difficulty because they learn words inchunks (visual) vs. blending letter sound by letter A great overview of teaching reading fromsound through the whole word. In other words, they DownsEd is found here. While you there, take astruggle to read a word instead of a smooth path look at their See and Learn materials. 21
  • 22. Chapter Ten Motivation and Errorless LearningOne of the most often missed keys to overcoming are too easy or too hard – from the misuse of socialobstacles to learning in children with Down skills (taking advantage of the extra chromosomesyndrome is the use of errorless learning. There was cuteness factor) to acting out behaviorally.a period in Reagan‟s life when I was looking forways to lift her out of the preschool stage. I call it Given our children‟s frequent exposure to failurean era because it seemed to go on forever! This key they commonly have decreased motivation whendiscovery, the errorless learning technique, lifted us learning new skills and concepts. Decreasedbeyond the preschool era into the elementary phase! motivation, along with inefficient learning processes (perhaps related to cognitive abilities andI would like to talk about errorless learning and the auditory processing difficulties) in children withconnection to motivation issues, how they impact Down syndrome, contributes significantly toeach other and what we can do to create a more obstacles to learning in our children.optimal learning environment for learners withDown syndrome. So what is a parent (especially a homeschooling parent) to do? In our experience, we began to lookMotivation for ways to guarantee successful learning experiences which make for more efficient learning.Reagan is, like most children with Down syndrome, How can we keep our children motivated? Giveextremely sensitive to failure. She hates to fail. them positive, successful experiences! SuccessPeriod. As an adolescent, she has better tools to feeds motivation!meet failure with and works to persevere on mosttasks but it hasn‟t always been this easy. Errorless LearningI often questioned my contribution to this problemas we moved through the early learning years. As I Errorless learning offers our children successlooked back, even to infancy, there was little I could learning experiences without failure. It is defined ashave done to prevent this sensitivity to failure. Let‟s teaching new tasks by guiding the child throughlook for a moment at our infants/toddlers with each step of learning a skill or concept correctly, notDown syndrome. allowing them to fail. As the child becomes more capable, the prompt or cue can be reduced until it isEven very young children with Down syndrome not many experiences with failure. Decreasedmuscle tone, common in children with Down The key to errorless learning is errorless teaching.syndrome, results in ineffectual movement. Speech Errorless teaching uses the same language – a scriptand language delays, along with articulation - with each lesson and repeating the process severaldifficulties result in ineffectual attempts at times (as long as it takes) following the same steps,communication. Did you know that self-evaluation in the same order, using the same words while usingof competence occurs in early stages of some sort of visual input (picture or possibly signdevelopment before the child can express language) to incorporate what is most often ourthemselves verbally? children with Down syndrome learning strength.So, I guess it is really no surprise when we see our Hopefully, this method will develop a strong basechildren develop strategies to avoid failure. Patricia for higher levels of learning such as problemOelwein writes in her book, Teaching Reading to solving with a trial and error approach. One thing IChildren with Down Syndrome, (pp. 23 – 25 ) as to have learned along this homeschooling journey isthe lengths our children will go to avoid tasks that that allowing Reagan to make a mistake encouraged 22
  • 23. her to repeat the mistake and then incorporate themistake or error into her knowledge base. If you reach a point where the child is frustrated or unsuccessful, bring the lesson back to a successfulThe most familiar errorless learning technique is the place before ending the session.matching, selecting, & naming technique taught inTeaching Reading by Pat Oelwin. Children with Sincere, appropriate praise is important to children.Down syndrome are guided throughout the processof learning new words without failure. Very Modeling is important to many thesuccessful and very exciting for the young reader! child how to complete the task. For example, hand washing has many steps and will need muchSuggestions regarding the use of the strategy of practice for many of our children to completeerrorless learning: independently. Sometimes physical support is necessary...hand over hand for skill development.Be sure to have the childs attention...some childrenneed training to attend. Don‟t forget to fade the support, prompts and cues with success.Use language that is understood by the child.Develop a script to use when delivering lessons. Patience, patience, and more patience is needed forTeach any unfamiliar language using errorless teaching our children with special needs. If I childteaching/learning. does not appear to be getting it then often times it is not their fault...or the teachers! So many factors canTarget skills you want to teach. There are several impede the learning process...memory issues,developmental skills lists that will help decide what processing issues. Sometimes their development isyour child needs to know when. Take into just not at the right place for learning a concept andconsideration the childs interests. can be returned to at a later date. I have been amazed when returning to a concept that I put asideIt is important to break down even the basics into for lack of progress only to find that somehowsmall steps. Teaching the plus sign for addition something clicked and Reagan has incorporated therequires the teacher to name the sign and the child concept!to match, select, then name it such. Children withshort-term memory problems - where errorless Errorless learning can be used with very younglearning is most needed - need practice at every learners to the more sophisticated of learners. It canstep. be applied to most concrete learning. Some examples would be:A key to learning for those children who havedevelopmental delay, learning difficulties, attention Learning colorsproblems, is to work only as long as it is fun and Learning lettersinteresting. Once they reach a level of fatigue or Learning letter soundsboredom it is time to switch gears and move onto Sight wordssomething else. Math concepts Learning numbersAlways keep learning sessions positive. The parent Money Skillsor teacher‟s attitude is extremely important. No Telling timematter how many times you have taught the lesson "Wh" questionsor what you mood is at the moment, keep the lessonpositive and uplifting. Our attitudes are quite The list can go on & on....apparent to our children and impactlearning....especially children with Down syndrome. Example of errorless teachingAs you may know, they are very sensitive to our One simple example - when introducing shapesmoods and feelings. show the child a picture of a circle, use whatever 23
  • 24. script you develop to teach such as “This is a circle. the concept will be incorporated and you will hearA circle has no corners.” Present the same visual your words repeated back to you!and script for as many times as necessary and soon 24
  • 25. Chapter Eleven Routines (The Groove)The groove is so important to individuals with homeschooling household. Without a routine in ourDown syndrome that the groove is addressed in home, little would get done.Down Syndrome: Visions for the 21st Century,edited by Cohen, Nadel and Madnick, p. 228 Routines are important to typically developing children too!"A groove is simply defined as a set pattern orroutine in one‟s actions or thoughts. In the general Routines are important for all of us!population, this tendency may be consideredobsessive-compulsive disorder but in the individual A few suggestions for families homeschooling awith Down syndrome, it provides them with child with Down syndrome regarding routines andstructure and order. The groove allows people with motivating the child to work within the routine:processing disorders (common in Down syndrome)to have more control over their lives." Develop a routine and stick to it. It is important that your child knows what to expectWhen I first discovered the presence and every day. Soon you‟ll find that your child willimportance of grooves in my research about people remind you what is left to be done.with Down syndrome, I noted the fine art of thegroove in my daughter‟s life. The groove allows her Devote yourself to the routine.and her very set routine to accomplish the activities Most of the distractions to our day came from theof daily living, her school work and recreational telephone. Train yourself to avoid those distractionstime in a set order where she doesn‟t have to think until what you need to accomplish as far as schoolabout it. is complete.The groove is so common in individuals with Down Make a visual for the child to refer to as the daysyndrome it is also mentioned in Mental Wellness Adults with Down Syndrome: A Guide to Initially, I would just use a daily schedule. As theEmotional and Behavioural Strengths and child understand the rhythm of the day, move on toChallenges by Dennis McGuire and Brian Chicoine, weekly and monthly schedules.has devoted a whole chapter to these characteristicbehaviors. Do not wait until your child is older to Prepare the child well ahead of time of anyget this very important book. It speaks to many changes.issues common to children/teens/adults with Down Again, the groove. Changes in routine may causesyndrome, such as challenging behaviors, autism, anxiety in the child with Down syndrome. Thereself-talk, memory issues and much more. will much less anxiety if any changes in the daily routine are talked about and placed in the weeklyThe groove - routine and structure are important to schedule.individuals with Down syndrome. The grooveallows them greater freedom and independence School is not a choice.within the known routines. Reagan has never known that she has a choice as far as doing her school work. It is something thatIndividuals with Down syndrome thrive with a set happens every day. She does have choices about theroutine. less important things in her life but reading, writing and arithmetic are to be done daily.Routine and structure are also important to the 25
  • 26. Plan ahead. into smaller steps to build on. As the skills/conceptsEvery Sunday I take the time to plan out our week. I are practiced and consolidated, add another step.plan and I gather materials so that when it comestime to start our day, I‟m not running all over trying Consider rewardsto find things while my child loses interest. I know you‟re thinking food but I am not! Sincere, appropriate praise will be genuinely appreciated andSpeaking of planning will go far in keeping with the flow of the day andPlan all those necessary errands and the childs willingness to participate.physical/dental/therapy appointments after schoolhours. Use that wonderful parent – child relationship as a reward for you both. How about a little cuddle timeMake fun a priority on the couch with mom and a good book? OurThe daily routine should consist of things the child visual learners all love a little computer time or aenjoys inside the work day. Choose the right high DVD for a good school day and a job well done.interest materials to make learning fun. Speaking of rewards.Learning should be meaningful. Sprinkle rewards throughout the day as necessary.To keep the child engaged, learning should target More frequent rewards may increase motivation tothe childs interests and build on what they know. stay with the scheduled day.New skills and concepts should be broken down 26
  • 27. Chapter Twelve Visual and Verbal Memory and Down Syndrome Growing Memory Skills in Young Learners with Down SyndromeChildren with Down syndrome are well-know fortheir relative strengths in visual memory and theirdeficits in auditory (verbal) processing skills. Visual Memory ActivitiesAuditory processing is a complex issue for ourchildren with Down syndrome. In this post, I‟m Visual Memory is a relative strength in childrengoing to concentrate on the short-term auditory with Down syndrome. This channel is notmemory aspect of our children‟s difficulty in completely intact so working to strengthen visualauditory processing. It is something tangible we can memory is on in our everyday interactions with ourchildren. Concentration Games You will need two sets of color cards: make aLet‟s take a moment to define what we are talking sequence of two color cards (red-blue). Have theabout: child look at these for a few seconds. Then turn the cards over. Given some other cards, she must pickVisual Memory refers to remembering what you out the two that are hidden. Increase to three andsee more colors as she is ready. Variations: Play with objects, number cards, letter cards, picture cards, orAuditory Memory refers to remembering what block shapesyou hear. Another variation of the above game: Use one set of color cards. Make a sequence of two colors (ie. red- blue). Allow your child to look at these a few Activities to Strengthen Processing Skills seconds. Then turn the cards over. She must then touch each card and tell you orally what the cardActivities for young children should be fun and color is before turning it over to check. Again thisengaging. When choosing activities, start with the can be played with objects, number cards, letterlowest level of difficulty to gage your childs skill cards, picture cards, or block shapes.level. We want our children to be successful withthe following memory skill builders or “games.” Games marketed under the trade name Memory - or make your own. This games involves pairs ofAs you begin memory training, your child may need pictures-shapes, letters, colors, animals etc. Thecues to be successful in completing tasks. They may cards are placed face down. Pick a card and try toneed to learn the game so give them plenty of remember where its match is located. Start with justpractice learning the games. Build to higher levels, a few pairs and build as skills allow.increasing in complexity, as your child findssuccess. Whats missing? Place 2-3 objects or pictures in front of your child. Have him/her look at the groupRemember, that sincere appropriate praise is a and name each object. Have the child close his/hergreat motivator! eyes, remove one object. Identify the missing object. Increase the level of difficulty as your childs 27
  • 28. skill level improves. Given three pictures, you verbally tell the childIdentify what is missing from known objects drawn what order to put them in.on paper. For example, draw a face without a nose Tell the child to clap his/her hands. Then give herand ask what is missing. two commands to do (clap and jump) Work up to giving her a sequence of three things to do.Sequencing & pattern activities. Reproducepatterns of colors, shapes, pictures. Continue a If the child can draw, tell him/her to draw items.pattern after several sets are given. Keep them simple at first: a red ball, a green square and so on. Increase in complexity over time. TheHide the peanut or some other treat. Hide a peanut child will have to hold the instructions in theirunder a cup. Use a set of two or three cups and your memory as they complete the task.child must find the peanut after you slowly movethem around. Repeat a series of sounds: Clap, Clap increasing in number with success, ie. Clap, Clap.....ClapRecreate drawings from memory. At the beach orcreate your own "sand box" with sand or salt poured Create an obstacle course in your house orinto a flat container. Draw a simple picture, letter, outside! Describe the way you want your child to goshape, wipe it away, and have your child recreate through the course in 1, 2, or 3 parts depending onthe drawing. his/her developmental level. For example, go around the chair, jump over the pillow, crawl under Auditory Memory Activities the table.Children with Down syndrome have deficits in Act out simple stories/nursery rhymes. Read ashort-term memory. They have a difficulty simple story or nursery rhyme and act it out or haveremembering what they hear which leads to delays him/her tell it back to you sequentially. You mayin talking, processing spoken language, for reading have to break the story down after reading it to yourand math. (1) child until his skills increase.These activities should help to strengthen verbal Play the shopping game. Ask the shopkeeper (yourshort-term memory skills. child) for a series of food items. Begin with one or two and work higher as he/she progresses. Let themRepeat a sequence of two numbers given verbally, help you remember your list when you visit theone per second. Have the child repeat what you say. grocery store.Increase to three and more as he/she is able.Variation this can be played with names of people, Treasure Hunt. Have your child retrieve a series ofanimals, toys, verb words, and letters. "treasures" from another room.Note: When my daughter was young we found Sequence activities of daily living. Repeat therepeating numbers to be confusing to her. She had activities of the day or an activity with several partsdifficulty ordering numbers in the proper sequence and have your child "help" you with what comesfor what seemed to be a long time. We only played next. This will seem quite natural when relaying theauditory memory games with the variations found days events to daddy over dinner.above. Helping around the house. When preparing dinnerVerbal Commands. Place some toys in another have your child get a list of needed items i.e. salt,room. Tell the child to get the doll. The child has to pepper, napkins, for the table. Repeat the series ashold the command in her memory and bring back needed to encourage success.the doll. If she can do one toy, tell her two toys tobring back. Repeating sentences. Start with simple phrases and 28
  • 29. increase length of utterances. For example, red ballor brown chair. As skills improve-The big ball is For more information:red. The brown chair is hard. If your child hears 1. Down Syndrome Issues and Information,well, make it fun and whisper. Memory Development for Individuals withDownSyndrome by Sue Buckley and GillianTeaching organizational skills will also help with Birdmemory skills. In the early years teach sorting bycolor, shape, & size. As they sort according to 2. Early Communication Skills for Children withclassification i.e. food groups, function, etc. Dont Down Syndrome by Libby Kuminforget oddity tasks...what doesnt belong to a certaingroup.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Note on long-term memory: Individuals with Down syndrome retain information that is meaningful (autobiographical memories) andIt is interesting to note that the long-term memory what is drawn directly from their life – both storedof individuals with Down syndrome is relatively in long-term memory.unaffected. Once skills/concepts reach the long-term memory they are rarely lost. At issue for children with Down syndrome is the instability in learning and getting concepts from short –term memory into long-term memory. 29
  • 30. Chapter Thirteen Down Syndrome and Challenging BehaviorsIf you are a parent with a child with Down In my research, I found that children with Downsyndrome, you might know our kiddos show higher syndrome respond better to positive behaviorrates of challenging behaviors than their typically supports which encourage appropriate behaviors.developing peers. Challenging behaviors common Little things like sincere praise, positive attention toto children with Down syndrome include appropriate behaviors, and rewards made a hugewandering, attention difficulties, inappropriate difference in effecting changes in behaviors, noncompliance, and compulsivebehavior. My parenting patterns had to change to effect changes in Reagan‟s behavior. I had to be muchDid you know that many children with Down more creative in parenting this child to make oursyndrome do not respond to typical parenting home environment more conducive to learning andstyles? As parents, we often use negative her behavior outside the home socially acceptableconsequences (time-out, spanking, punishment) for so that learning and social opportunities were moreinappropriate behavior. In many cases, using available to her.negative consequences with the child with Downsyndrome can exacerbate behavior issues! I learned about looking at behavior in the context in which it occurs. I learned about A-B-CReagan was one of these kids. Like many children (Antecedents – Behavior – Consequences) patternswith Down syndrome, she has quite the delightful to look for ways to effect changes in behavior.personality. She is kind, thoughtful and affectionatemost of the time. She is right there when someone is I learned that ridding a child with Down of problemin need to offer her love and support. I dont think behaviors often takes more learning trials than itshe has a malicious bone in her body but we have would with a typically developing child.faced many challenging behaviors. Challengingbehaviors in children with Down syndrome tend to I learned that you must teach the child exactly whatbe complex in nature - related to you expect. Most young children with Downprocessing/language difficulties, fear of syndrome learn little incidentally (by example) -failure/motivation, cognitive issues, lack of choices, appropriate behavior must be explicitly taught andetc. modeled. Skill building vs. trial and error which can lead to frustration and even embarrassment!For Reagan, the most challenging behaviors stemfrom her highly stubborn nature. I think every The younger child may benefit from a pictorialparent of a child with Down syndrome deals with guide to refer to when placed in known difficultwhat appears to be an exaggerated stubborn streak. situations as a reminder of what is expected. In theNegative consequences did nothing to change her school age child, social stories are often used topatterns of behavior. teach social skills to children with special needs but can be adapted to address challenging behaviors inAs a homeschooling parent, I took our discipline the child with Down syndrome. They are easy toissues very seriously. After all, without control of create on a word processor and can be tailored tochallenging behaviors and discipline (on all parts) the unique needs of the child.we cannot effectively educate our children at home.Reducing challenging behaviors had to become a I also ran across a book that I recommend to everypriority if we were to continue on our parent with a child with special needs, Steps tohomeschooling journey. Independence, Teaching Everyday Skills to Children with Special needs, by Bruce L. Baker and 30
  • 31. Alan Brightman. This book not only speaks to skill with immediately and consistently. As she hasdevelopment but has several chapters devoted to matured and her language comprehension increases,behavior and positive behavioural support. The we can discuss various choices she has as shebook does not specifically target children with problem solves and the consequences of her actions.Down syndrome but I have found it to be an She gets plenty of time out in the community - moreinvaluable resource! opportunities for working on developing proper behavior and social skills. At times it has beenAt 14, Reagan understands negative consequences exhausting - especially in the early years - butand I use them effectively as necessary. In the real definitely well-worth every ounce of effort! She isworld there are negative consequences for growing into a lovely young lady.inappropriate behaviors so she finds them at hometoo. I think maturity has made a huge difference in Reagan, like most of us, is still a work in progress.her ability to understand the consequences of her We continue to work on appropriate behaviors andbehaviors and increase her compliance. social skills in the home and around the community. It is said that good behavior and social skills are theEducating Reagan at home has been quite beneficial keys to success for adults with Down syndrome soin ridding her of challenging behaviors. She is in an we continue working to become the best we can be!environment where behavior issues can be dealt 31
  • 32. Chapter Fourteen Homeschooling and Down Syndrome – “The Reluctant Learner” The Homeschooling ParentChildren with Down syndrome aren‟t really Educate Yourselfreluctant learners but it may seem that way - Be educated and informed. My archives hold a greatespecially in the early years of their lives. What deal of information on homeschooling and Downmay appear to be reluctance or resistance is just the syndrome. The sidebar to the right has many usefulway they try to deal with the complexities of life links. The Riverbend Down Syndrome Supportwith Down syndrome and the obstacles they face in website is full of research related to how childrenlearning. with Down syndrome learn and also quite a bit of information on homeschooling children with DownOver the years Ive had quite a few questions on this syndrome.issue. I would like to share a few tricks of the trade.Little things that have helped me that might help Commitmentyou. Some are quite obvious but some thought We all go through a research phase whengiven to the obvious may garner some new insights considering homeschooling our children with Downas to the importance of what is obvious and how it syndrome. It is usually a time filled with anxiety –plays into the homeschooling environment. very normal! We wonder if we are capable of this huge responsibility. You are! Once the decision isChildren First made to choose the homeschooling option, commitChildren with Down syndrome are children first. yourself fully to it. Our children will sense if we areChildren are fun and like to have fun. They are silly just experimenting and not fully committed.and playful so why not play along! My experiencewith a child with Down syndrome is that there is Our Approachmore fun with the extra chromosome! The learning Are we approaching homeschooling our child basedenvironment should be filled with interesting and on their needs? When I was in the research phase, Iengaging materials that help make learning FUN! feel in love with a literature based method of homeschooling. Soon I found out that approachThe Parent would not be best for Reagan. She does not learnAs homeschooling parents, we may be well from listening due to auditory processingoverwhelmed by the obstacles to learning our issues.children with Down syndrome face. I‟m here to tellyou its all about baby steps. – your own and the So I switched my thinking and approach to best suitchild‟s. Homeschooling a child with Down her learning needs. As you know, children withsyndrome is not that hard – it just takes time and Down syndrome are visual learners. All informationeffort to learn how the child learns, what obstacles given verbally should be paired with a visual –they face and then implement what you have gesture, sign, flashcards, picture cues, the writtenlearned into the child‟s learning environment. You word etc.will learn together to make your home the bestlearning environment for your child! 32
  • 33. Our Attitude underdeveloped gifts waiting to blossom!Our attitude is so important to the learningenvironment. Our attitudes are contagious! If we Patienceapproach our day and school hours with a positive Doesnt every parent pray for more patience?outlook and enthusiasm our children will too! Homeschooling a child with Down syndrome requires patience. Learning often takes longer andI am by nature a quiet, reserved person. Though I do requires many more learning trials than withtend to look at life with a positive outlook, Reagan typically developing children. Just remember that asdemands more of me. She has turned me into a you tire of teaching a skill/concept they are justrather loud and boisterous cheerleader! We feed off beginning to get it. The joy that follows when a newof each other in our excitement and love for skill is accomplished or a new concept islearning. consolidated is glorious!The Parent – Child Relationship CreativityA warm, loving relationship between the parent and Don‟t let your perceived lack of creativity stop youchild is essential in the homeschooling from considering homeschooling! I don‟t considerenvironment. Nurture this and many of your battles myself the creative type but am surprised over andare won! Children with Down syndrome tend to be over again by what is delivered to me (from above)very sensitive to the feelings of others. Reagan is no that which is needed to get a concept across! Newdifferent. She wants to please me avenues of delivering more abstract material appear with perfect timing.Latent Gifts?Homeschooling moms might discover a few latent Next, Ill focus on the "reluctant" learner with Downgifts! Homeschooling may develop some syndrome. 33
  • 34. Chapter Fifteen Homeschooling & Down Sydrome – “The Reluctant Learner” The ChildIn trying to discern what difficulties there might be Attentionin the learning environment which might result inreluctance or resistance, I always ask myself or Are attention deficits a contributing factor?might ask you the following questions: Attention deficits are common in young learners with Ds. Incrementally increasing time and Health attention to task is worth the time and effort inside and outside of formal schooling is well worth theAre they feeling well? A child who is not feeling time and effort.well is not receptive to learning. A child who doesnot get sufficient sleep will not be receptive to Is it hard for the child to sit still for learning?learning. Alternate seat work with fine and gross motor activities. Keep any seat work meaningful. LessonsAre their eyes and ears healthy? Vision and should be fairly short and fast paced. Keep the funhearing problems are common with Down factor high!syndrome and a great impediment to learning.Attention to these potential problems is needed with Combining physical movement with learning can beannual (minimum) physical exams. quite helpful and enjoyable. A friend of mine did “ball school” when her son Motivation with Down syndrome was young. He practiced sight word reading while bouncing a ball. This markedlyIs motivation a factor? Children with Down increased his ability to learn new words.syndrome are known to have motivational issueswhen compared to typically developing children of Learning Profilethe same age. From the time that our children withDown syndrome are born, they work hard to learn Children with Down syndrome have a knownthe skills they need – harder and longer than profile of strengths and weaknesses to consider intypically developing children. They are familiar the homeschooling environment.with failure and need to be supported in learningwith errorless teaching/learning to feel successful. Am I teaching to my child’s learning strengths? Children with Down syndrome are primarily visualIs the child bored? Young learners with Down learners. Therefore, material presented should besyndrome thrive on material given at a fast pace in accompanied by a visual engaging manner. Keep it FUN! What about processing deficits? Children withIs the work provided close to the child’s Down syndrome frequently have auditorydevelopmental level? Working closely to his/her processing difficulties. This makes learning bydevelopmental level will make her feel successful listening difficult. Again, visual cues are of theand involved...and motivate her to come back for utmost importance.more! Am I using language the child understands? As parents, we have a greater understanding of the 34
  • 35. words our children understand. We know they takes on interest. Is the curriculum a good fit?understand far more than they can express. New Concept oriented materials with a hands-on, visualvocabulary should be specifically taught and clearly approach works best for the early learner withdefined. Down syndrome. The Learning Environment Challenging BehaviorsAre their any distractions? Is the house free from Are behaviors getting in the way of learning?noises from the television, radio or adults or other Often times, challenging or inappropriate behaviorschildren talking? Children with Down syndrome are are clues that you need to switch gears. Change theeasily distracted by noise and even visual stimuli. subject. Change the venue. Go for a walk but keep the child engaged! The Learning Table Normal childhood naughtiness or the avoidanceLearning does not necessarily happen at a table. In behaviors (cute but socially inappropriatefact, much does not but I will refer to lesson time as behaviors) common to children with Downwork done at the table. syndrome can disrupt the learning environment. Think about positive behavioural approaches vs. theIs the work meaningful? Am I building on what more common parenting approaches which includethe child knows – scaffolding new skills on top of punishments that are ineffective.what has been consolidated? Sometimes behavior challenges are of a moreIs what they are working on to easy or to hard? serious nature. If so, those behaviors can be theEarly learners with Down syndrome should be greatest obstacle to learning a child with Downworking close to where they are functioning on the syndrome faces. If necessary, seek professionaldevelopmental scale you are using – again, building support.on skills they already have. Previous Learning ExperiencesAm I breaking down the task/concept in tosmaller bits so that the child can understand the What previous learning experiences has the childtask/concept? With many concepts/skills, we have had? Has the child been removed from the systemhad to break them down into smaller steps and recently? Was their previous learning environmentspend extra time on them. Breaking down traumatic? You wouldn‟t believe the stories I‟veskills/concepts gives meaning to the task as each heard from families who have removed their childstep is mastered. from the public school system.Am I providing enough repetition for the The general rule of thumb for homeschoolingmastery of skills and concepts? Frequent input families is that the child will need a month for everyand plenty of review are the keys to consolidation year in the system or adjust (some say recover) toof learning. homeschooling. I think it is safe to say a child with cognitive impairments will take longer.Am I giving them enough practice at new skillsand concepts? Often a wide variety of materials,rotated throughout the week to reinforce new In Closingskills/concepts are necessary to consolidatelearning. What seems to be reluctance or resistance on the part of the learner with Down syndrome can be theAm I taking into consideration the child’s result of many complex issues – none of which areinterests? In bringing the child‟s interests into the insurmountable. Persistence on you part will paylearning environment, the most mundane of tasks huge dividends! 35
  • 36. Chapter Sixteen Homeschool BurnoutIf you are considering homeschooling, we might as Homeschooling Children with Special needswell discuss burnout. Late January and Februarybring me to a place where I feel totally uninspired – Taking the responsibility for homeschooling a childalso known as burnout. I know I‟m not alone. Many with special needs may intensify our feelings ofhomeschooling moms experience a sense of burnout burnout. After all, this is a huge responsibility – ourthis time of year. efforts will impact our childs future functional competence. We don‟t have a system to rely on orWhat is homeschool burnout? blame.Perhaps life is not quite so enjoyable. In fact, you We often find ourselves comparing out childrenmight find all your emotions rather muted. with others with a similar diagnosis in our ownIrritability is common. Also feeling exhausted, community whether it be in our homeschoolingoverwhelmed, discouraged or possibly even community or perhaps even a child in the schooldepressed are known symptoms. Symptoms will system. Are they doing better? Did I make the rightvary with each individual. The key is to be aware of choice? Would my child be better off in the systemthe likelihood of its occurrence before it impacts the with all its supports?family and your homeschool. Burnout - What can we do?What contributes to this sense of burnout? Burnout is a nasty place to be. The remedies:For us northerners who face shorter, cloudy days,bitter cold, ice and snow, the weather plays a big 1. Anticipate burnout.part in our feelings of isolation from others. It is justa reality that social gatherings and field trips Burnout is common in homeschooling moms.decrease because of the weather. Anticipate it and you‟ve almost won the battle!We‟ve got half of the school year under our belts. 2. Take a good look at your priorities.Most of the homeschooling moms I know see thistime as a time that we question what we have Be sure that you are in fact keeping them in thechosen to do with our children. We question our right order.goals and the effectiveness our role as -Am I spending enough time with God in prayerhomeschooling mothers. We question the and with His Word?effectiveness of our choices. We ask ourselves -Am I giving enough time to my husband? In givingquestions and ruminate beyond the necessary and you will receive.useful point. Are we doing enough? Are we meeting -Are my children‟s basic and educational neeDownour goals? Do we need to make changes? syndrome being met?Most homeschooling mothers have high 3. After reassessing priorities, choose carefullyexpectations for themselves. They often find there is where you get involved outside the home.never enough time in the day for all they want toaccomplish – with school, parenting, discipline, It is common for others to think just because youlaundry, cooking, cleaning etc. Homeschooling is a homeschool you are available to meet their needsvery task-oriented lifestyle lending itself to burnout. and the needs of the community during school hours. Practice saying no or Im sorry I just cant do it -- without explanations. 36
  • 37. emotionally spiritually ready for learning? If that is4. Quit second guessing God. the case, then learning will occur. They may not learn all that is on your agenda for the day but theyMost of us who are called to homeschool are led will be open to the experiences and opportunitiesthere by a loving Father. If He leads us here, He provided.will provide all that we need to accomplish His -Wake up with a thankful heart. Thank God for thegoals for us and our family. opportunities that He will place before you as the day unfolds.5. Remember why you homeschool. -Pray for your children and ask God to bless your day together.Keep your goals for your children close and in the -Thank God for them and the joy they bring – evenproper perspective. Are you homeschooling to when they are bickering.instill proper morals and values? Are you -Verbalize all you find in the day to be thankful for.homeschooling because you believe you and your Soon you will find your children doing the samefamily are contributing to the need for more strong and the joy is multiplied!soldiers for Christ? Do you think you can provide abetter education for your children than the system 9. Learn to live with dust bunnies.can provide? Do you have a child with specialneeds who thrives in your homeschool One of the hardest things for me as aenvironment? Worthy goals - keep your eye on the homeschooling mom was letting go of my need forprize! Ive graduated one well-rounded young lady a clean, tidy house all the time. I am a recoveringwho, with her natural gifts, will contribute greatly neat freak. I am a recovering neat freak living withwhere ever she is planted. It was worth every people who don‟t see what the fuss is about. Theysecond! are right of course.6. Take good care of you. 10. Schedule flexibility.I cannot stress enough how important it is to take Thats right - if you are the obsessive-compulsivecare of yourself. Eat right, exercise and get proper type like me who has a daily schedule, put a littlesleep. Your world will be a better place. flexibility in your schedule. Leave time for spontaneity and discover the joys!7. Don’t compare your children 11. Delight in the little things.Dont compare them with each other, familymembers or those in the community - especially if A cup of hot tea or hot chocolate with instructionsthey have special needs. This is probably one of that mama is taking a few minutes of time out andTHE most destructive thing any parent can do. take it. My homeschooling friend, Amy, puts on herCompare them only to themselves. Are they red tennis shoes every morning because they bringworking towards goals that are reasonable and her a sense of delight – every day.obtainable? Are they making progress? Sometimesit is essential to look at the baby steps they might be 12. Make time for the things you enjoy and thattaking toward a long sought after goal to find refresh you.success. Find it and celebrate it! Whether it be a good book or a hobby - do it.8. Work at changing your thought patterns. 13. Make a list of things to look forward to-If you are often finding yourself discouraged and -Schedule a date night with hubby – even if it has todown, try to focus on your blessings. Are you be in your own home.children healthy, clean, fed – physically, -How about a game night with the kids? 37
  • 38. -An occasional mom‟s night out with friends. Real 15. Explore curriculum friends are important.-A special dinner once a week with all your favorite Most of us have homeschooling conventions on thefoods. horizon. Take the time to get excited about next year, investigate new options/curriculum choices and make plans on where you want to spend your14. Make a list of projects to take on. time in the vendor hall.I usually have a winter project because we spend 16. Seek out the homeschooling community onmore time at home. Even if it is just a closet or a the internet for support.few drawers, it is something outside the dailyroutine. It makes me feel productive in a different There are so many wonderful places to find supportway. Involve the kids and it will be more fun! I on the internet - way to many to list but you mightdon‟t know if the kids will find my winter project try The Swap, The Homeschool Lounge, Heart offun – stripping the kitchen wall paper – but you the Matter Online when you cant meet with yournever know. local homeschoolers for support and fellowship. I doubt you can find a homeschooler that has not experienced burnout. Let others share their ideas to get through this season. 38
  • 39. Chapter Seventeen The Homeschooling Community - Supporting Homeschoolers with Children with Special NeedsMatthew 25: 31-46In every homeschooling community you will findhomeschoolers educating children with special Individuals with special needs are an oftenneeds. You may not see a lot of them but they do marginalized segment of society. They are oftenexist. excluded because they look and/or act differently. Much of society doesn‟t value those with significantWhy don’t you see them? needs and/or cognitive challenges. In fact, many with known genetic syndromes are aborted in utero.They may not be comfortable bringing their child Babies created in His image disposed of as uselesswith special needs to events and gatherings due to tissue!social, behavioral and/or physical issues. Let the homeschooling community be different.They may be using all their available energy to Embrace those with special needs and their familiesmeet the needs of their family and their child with as Jesus would!special needs. What you, as an individual, can do:They may not feel their children are accepted as In every homeschooling community you will findfully participating members of the community. many who would love to support those homeschooling children with special needs butDoes the homeschooling community have a aren‟t sure what they can do.responsibility to nurture and support thosehomeschooling children with special needs? 1. Acknowledge we are dealing with more than the typical homeschooling family.The homeschooling community is primarily madeup of Christian families. Jesus welcomed – even We acknowledge that every child is special but wehealed - many people with special needs. He gave do deal with challenges beyond the typical familythem His time and attention. Why should the which impact our lives, our marriages, our typicallyChristian homeschooling community be any developing children and our relationships in thedifferent? community. Often times, we work endlessly to find ways to meet the needs of our child with specialMany of these families are already a part of the needs and spend many more hours per day meetinghomeschooling community. Their children with that child‟s needs to helping him/her reach beyondspecial needs should be welcomed into the their as every other child is welcomed. 2. Keep a mental list of those you meet in the homeschooling community with children with 39
  • 40. special needs. deal about befriending those who really are more like them than different and valuing all of GodsWhen you meet someone who homeschools a child creation.with special needs, ask them if they know someoneyou are acquainted with who also homeschools a 7. Include the family openly and lovingly inchild with special needs. Networking with others homeschooling group activities.for an acquaintance can lead to invaluable support. Your kindness will be deeply appreciated.3. Do not be afraid to approach the family. 8. Allow us the opportunity to educate your co-Many people just don‟t know what to say or do. Let op, field trip group, and/or social group on theus lead the way for you. As you get to know the special needs of our, you will probably be surprised by theblessings they know as a parent of a child with This may help others feel more comfortable withspecial needs. our children. We hope they will be valued for who they are and not their diagnosis…and included asYou will discover that our lives are more than our fully as possible.childs diagnosis. We, as a family, are just like yourfamily. Beyond the challenges we face, are the same 9. Mentoring opportunities.dreams and hopes for our children...and we sharemany of the same problems. Older typically developing children can be of great4. Don’t be afraid to inquire about our child’s assistance to the family homeschooling a child withspecial needs special needs during group activities. Having an older buddy guide them through those activities hasMost families are quite willing to share – they live many mutual benefits.with those special needs day in and day out. 10. Do remember the siblings.5. Do not be afraid of the child with special At times, people forget about the devoted siblings.needs. Growing up alongside a child with special needsThey may look different or act differently but they comes with many blessings but sometimes theyare always children first. The nonverbal child will need to be acknowledged for who they areappreciate a smile, a light touch and friendly individually. No one really wants to be known onlyconversation – just like every other child. Some as the sibling of the child with special needs.children will have „invisible‟ special needs and are 11. Invite the parents out or over for analso in need of your support and understanding. occasional social activity.6. Educate your children about our special We need to just be grownups sometimes and awayblessings and encourage friendships. from our daily responsibilities.It is important for children with special needs tohave friendships with typically developing children.Children with special needs learn a great deal from 12. If you are so called, offer respite care onpeer relationships. There peers will learn a great occasion. 40
  • 41. An hour or two on occasion will provide typically, frequent visits to physicians and/orrefreshment for the overwhelmed parent. Perhaps therapists, dealing with behavioral challenges andyou have a teen willing to be trained in meeting the meeting the needs of the rest of their family. This isfamily‟s needs. Helping with some light household the time when support is needed most.tasks or entertaining a toddler will be huge for a Some other suggestions:family dealing with a child with special needs.  Acknowledge that families homeschooling13. Do not feel sorry for us. children with special needs exist – then ask how you can support them.We don‟t need sympathy when, for the most part,  Have special needs resources in your local homeschooling library or keep of list ofwe are abundantly blessed! Most often we just need print resources for referral.fellowship but there are episodic times of grieving  Have links to special needs resources on thefor those raising children with special needs. internet on your homeschooling association‟s website.14. Empathy is genuinely needed at times.  Also include links to local, state and national support groups for those homeschoolingOffer your ear and an open heart when we do children with special needs.struggle. Sometimes we just might need someone to  Seek out those who homeschool childrenlisten. Even if you can‟t truly understand, a with special needs as mentors for those inquiring about homeschooling their childcompassionate heart might be all that is needed. with special needs.15. Pray for our families as you feel led.  Print an occasional article aboutWe all need prayer but our families may have homeschooling children with special needsdifferent specific needs. in your newsletters.What can the greater homeschooling community  Think about convention support. There aredo? many speakers available to support the homeschooling and special needs community.This needs to be a ministry to an often marginalizedgroup of families. A little extra effort to support ourfamilies will go a long way. Even the small things I promise you will be blessed in giving a little or amean so much. lot. When you reflect God‟s love for all of His creation – especially to those with special needs –Don‟t expect those homeschooling children with you will discover a heart more inclined to love asspecial needs to have the time and energy to give to Jesus calls us to love. Bless and be blessed!the greater community on a regular basis. They aretoo often overwhelmed by what they have beencalled to do – especially in the early years wherethey are dealing with their child‟s diagnosis,seeking answers to why their child isn‟t developing 41
  • 42. Appendix 42
  • 43. Appendix A Prayer for Homeschoolers with Children with Special NeedsWe thank you Father for placing your special stumble, and occasionally fail, seeking your will.children within our care and for trusting us despiteour human failings. We seek your will in training up For comfort for those who are grieving the loss of aour children to Your glory. You created our "normal" child and those who struggle withchildren with special needs in your image. You depression or feel overwhelmed as they see Yourreveal yourself to us through your creation and your will for their families.Word. Let us study all you reveal with a discerningmind, seeking wisdom with a grateful heart that That we may freely give you our sorrow, anger andallows us to know you and your plan for our lives. grief.Specifically we pray... For others who offer an ear, a shoulder, or a discerning heart traveling alongside us inWe always remember to put you first in our lives friendship.and lead our children to do the same. For professionals that lend a helping hand in theFor patience when we are frustrated. way of therapies as we educate our children at home. Let us remember that you alone gave themFor enthusiasm when teaching the same concept the gifts they use to guide us. Give us a discerningrepeatedly. heart and mind to lead us towards those who are homeschool friendly.For creativity in teaching concepts which aredifficult. For our typical children - that they may come to understand Your will for them as it relates to theirFor hope and strength when learning seems to be at "special" sibling.a standstill - knowing that it will occur in your time.Help us to see the baby steps and rejoice in them. For our spouses as they journey with us - may we find our hope and strength in You.For positive attitudes when behavior problemsoverwhelm us. As we seek your will for our precious children and ourselves, we ask for wisdom, strength, courage andFor wisdom and discernment when making discernment. Help us to always see Your lovingdecisions for our children. arms beyond our early shortsightedness.For courage to encourage independence as our Bless our homes, our lives, our homeschoolchildren make their way in the world. gracious Lord. Let your will be done in our lives. May all we say and do glorify you - Father, Son andMay we see you in your special gift to us as we Holy Spirit. Amen 43
  • 44. Appendix B Reading RecommendationsThese recommendations were compiled based onparent opinions from several e-mail lists andresearch into how children with Down syndrome Essential Skillslearn to read. Feel free to e-mail me with any Sight words and phonicsEdmark Reading Programquestions or suggestions. Level One and Level Two Sight word reading curriculum for children withReading for Children with Special Needs/Visual Learners/Down Syndrome special needs. Flash SeriesEarly ReadersBob Books Reading Curriculum for Children with SpecialEarly sight word readers NeedsRittenhouse Publications Edmark Reading ProgramColor-coded word families Reading (sight word) curriculum for children withDick and Jane Series special needs.Sight word books with repetition of frequently used Reading MilestoneswordsWilbooks Reading Curriculum Designed for Children withInexpensive readers with repetition Down Syndrome See and LearnReaders for Children with Special Needs From The Down Syndrome Educational Trust –Greenhouse Publications Online program in pilot phase.Interactive sight word readers CataphonicsSpecial Reads for Special Needs Phonics program developed by a mother to a childSight word readers with Down syndromeDown Home Learning Special Reads for Special NeedsSight word readers taught on 3 levels - created by a Sight word readers created by a parent with a childparent of a child with Down syndrome. with Down syndrome.Love and Learning Down Home LearningSight word program – video/DVD Sight word readers taught on 3 levels. Created by a parent of a child with Down syndrome.SoftwareDeveloping Child Love and LearningA flash card sight word program for early learners Sight word program – video/DVDFlashcards from Geddes Productions Special Offspring SeriesFlashcard program that can be customized Developed by a parent with a child with Down syndrome 44
  • 45. POPS ResourcesDown Syndrome Foundation of Orange CountyOnline literacy and math activities to download. Video/DVD ReinforcementeReadingPro LeapFrog Your Baby Can ReadDeveloped for Typical Learners, Used with Cueing - Another Visual AideSuccess in Some Children with Down Syndrome Visual PhonicsHooked on Phonics Cued SpeechTeach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons Tucker Signing StrategiesPhonics basedYour Baby Can Read Other recommendations for visual learnersSight word program Fletcher‟s PlaceThrass Picture Me ReadingJolly PhonicsReading Reflex Resources For teaching children with Down syndrome to read:Online Reading Programs How to Teach Your Baby to Read by Glenn DomanStarfall Successful method for children up to 3 years of ageEarly reading based on word families Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome by Patricia OelweinOnline Picture Symbols - Visual Aides in Reading program for children of typical school ageReading The Development of Literacy Skills in ChildrenDo 2 Learn with Down Syndrome: Implications for InterventionA wealth of picture symbols Margaret Snowling, Hannah Nash and LisaBeyond Autism, PECs, pictures, icons pages HendersonA compilation of sites for picture symbolsPicture Symbol SoftwareBoardmakerPixWriterWriting With SymbolsPicture ItOverboard 45
  • 46. Appendix C Math Curricula SuggestionsMath skills are difficult for most children with Down syndrome. A great place to start in your research aboutnumber skills and Down syndrome is found in Down Syndrome Issues and Information - Number SkillsDevelopment. It is now online and free!The following list is a compilation of resources used by parents with success for children with Down syndrome.Feel free to e-mail me with any questions or suggestions. Math ResourcesFinger Math Math-U-SeeAlso known as Chisenbop or Chisan-Bop Developed by a father who has a son with DownThe Complete Book of Fingermath, Edwin M. syndromeLieberthal, Fingermath International, ISBN:0070376808. Shiller MathTutorial Montesorri- based learningTeacher intensive – long learning profile butsuccessful. Software Reinforcement for LearningTouchMath Math MasterKumon Math Essential SkillsIf you have a Kumon Center near you, takeadvantage of their expertise! Video/DVDTeaching Math to People with Down Syndrome and MathtacularOther Hands-On Learners K level math conceptsBook One and Book TwoBy DeAnna Horstmeier, Ph.D. Backyard Math with Zac First grade math conceptsNumiconRecommended by The Down Syndrome Dr. Finkle‟s MathEducational Trust. Can be purchased through their DVDs and CDRsstore in the USA. Online Math Activities to DownloadMastering Mathematics Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County 46
  • 47. Appendix D Curriculum ResourcesThis list came about from a need to find solutions to my daughter‟s learning problems. I needed to searchoutside the world of homeschooling and delve into special education materials. I have included a fewhomeschooling companies that have useful materials for children with special needs.Curriculum ResourcesBob Jones University PressAdapted curriculum for children with Down Resources for Informationsyndrome at the K4 & K5 levels of learning.Send me an email for further information. Special Needs ProjectRemedia Publications Brookes PublishingPCI Education Woodbine HouseAttainment CompanyBright Apple Special Education Educational Materials, ManipulativesNascoSteck-Vaughn Educational InsightsHandwriting Without TearsWriting Program Bargain HuntingMastery Publications Dont forget to check for bargains! Ive found someMath, language, writing programs great bargains below.Different Roads to LearningCurriculum, flashcards, software, games mainly Half.comtargeting children w/autism but good for all visual Book Closeoutslearners. 47
  • 48. Appendix E Software RecommendationsAs we all know, children with Down syndrome are primarily visual learners. Software can be a fun way tomake learning meaningful and reinforce skills. This list is just a starting point and complied fromrecommendations by parents with children with Down syndrome.Software RecommendationsEdmark Software - now at Riverdeep Birdrock Software/DVDs Affordable software,Broderbund Reading softwareThe Learning Company Love & Learning Reading SoftwareLaureate Learning SystemsEducational Software for children with special Developing Childneeds. Very pricey but some programs may help A flash card sight word program for early learnerspay the costs. They are willing to send a softwaredemo. Flashcards from Geddes ProductionsDorling Kindersley Picture/word flashcards - can be customizedEducational software Essential SkillsLinguiSystems Wide variety of educational softwareNew line of software for speech, language andcommunication issues. Edmark Reading Program Reading (sight word) curriculum for children withIntelliTools special needs.For children with special needs. Lexia LearningDifferent Roads to Learning Phonemic awareness, phonics and decoding skillsTargets children with autism but good for all visuallearners. Flash Series Sight words and more!BloomingKidsVariety of software for children with special needs Math SoftwareEarobics Math MasterHelp for auditory processing Learn basic counting skills, addition and subtractionAll-In-One-Language-Fun Touch MoneyNo longer available from the distributor but can beoccasionally found on ebay Picture Math 48
  • 49. ReviewsHere is a good place to check out reviews for Be sure to shop for bargains! Often times a goodsoftware before you purchase: Software Reviews bargain can be found on eBay. 49
  • 50. Appendix F Resources for Speech, Language and CommunicationSpeech, language, communication and auditory processing issues are almost universal in children with Downsyndrome. As a homeschooling mom with a child with Ds, Im very interested in learning all I can about how tohelp my daughter deal with these issues.While we do use a professional speech therapist, I supplement what our therapist does with resources Ive foundwith the companies below and thought I would share.Speech, Language and Communication Super Duper PublicationsResources Janelle PublicationsPro-Ed, Speech, Language & Hearing Catalog ECL PublicationsLinguiSystems Great Ideas For TeachingLaureate Learning Systems 50
  • 51. Appendix G Resources - Homeschooling and Down SyndromeThese resources will educate the homeschoolingparent about Down syndrome, their unique learning Gross Motor Skills in Children with Downneeds to deliver targeted interventions, and take the Syndrome by Patricia C. Winders, P.Tmystery out of therapies. Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome by Maryanne Bruni, BScOTWebsites Teaching Math to People with Down Syndrome andThe Riverbend Down Syndrome Association Other Hands-On Learners by DeAnna Horstmeier,A wealth of information about how children with Ph.D. Book 1 and Book 2Ds learn and a homeschooling folder. Teaching Reading to Children with DownThe Down Syndrome Educational Trust Syndrome by Patrica OelweinPublishes research about Down syndrome fromaround the world. Mental Wellness in Adults with Down Syndrome by Dennis McGuire, Ph.D. & Brian Chicoine, M.D.Books and other Materials (not just about adults)Down Syndrome Issues and Information My ebook Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome compiles much of the information andEffective Teaching Strategies for Successful research available - one stop shopping and its free!Inclusion: A Focus on Down Syndrome, publishedby the PREP ProgramThe Source for Down Syndrome Written byCatherine I. Chamberlain & Robin M. StrodeEarly Communications Skills for Children withDown Syndrome by Libby Kumin, Ph.D.Classroom Language Skills for Children with DownSyndrome by Libby Kumin, Ph.D.Helping Children with Down SyndromeComminicate Better by Libby Kumin, Ph.D., CCC-SLP (ages 6-14) 51