Saturday, 2 April 2011

Teaching Children with Intellectual Disabilities

Today I attended a seminar run by one of the worlds leading researchers in the education and development of children with Down Syndrome. The main topics were speech & language, the learning environment, reading and managing behaviour.

It was excellent for me and I'll have to keep referring to my notes when we do hit the various stages with Katelyn - but a few things that stood out for me (and good for me to run through it all and not forget it immediately!).

* Practice changes everything  
* If you're not able to communicate, it really effects your social competence
* There are wonderful strengths of Down Syndrome children, use them in learning
* Being able to move is essential for learning and being involved socially
* Support with success and not with failure
* The brain develops through input and learning continues forever
*Your regular toddler, learns through asking asking asking, but your child with Down Syndrome, who isn't prompting you (for various reasons, inability to communicate etc) isn't being spoken to nearly as much.So I have to giggle and ask God to give me the ability to talk talk talk (which really doesn't come naturally to me!), and repeat repeat repeat.
* Behaviour is THE most important thing. If you can behave, you can always fit in.

There are many families who face the challenges of inclusive education (and some before we will), but I can't but not look ahead and see the difficult questions / choices / decisions / conversations we'll have when figuring the best way to go. South Africa is just NOT an inclusive culture. Am not going to even think further for now, as its an enormous topic, but I trust God that the right options will come available for us at the right time and that we'll feel equipped to make the right decisions for Katelyn.

** I get home from the seminar, to a hilariously cute gorgeous little girl - who has been quite an angel for her father (lucky him!) and a bunch of smiles for her grandparents. Looking at her I sometimes wonder how / when / what / ?????? I'm going to fit in ALL the things that will be so excellent for her(from therapies, to activities at home, signing, making personal books etc etc etc) ...or maybe I'll just rather forget about it all and just cuddle her! **

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