A Precious Gift
A Child with Down Syndrome
A child with Down Syndrome is a precious gift. I will show you why. Do you remember the man who sold everything he owned to buy a precious pearl? Down Syndrome is like that. It requires more effort on the part of most parents, but the rewards are incalculable.
For 90% of unborn babies who have Down Syndrome, that extra chromosome is the equivalent of a death sentence. That is how many of the babies who have the trait are killed by abortion. What a waste of a precious human being!
Before you say I don't know what I am talking about, I will tell you that I have a nephew with Down Syndrome. I love him dearly. He is now in his early 20's. So he's been around awhile, and it has given me the opportunity to know much more about this situation than the average person.
One time my sister and I took a poll. If he could have surgery to change his appearance so that he doesn't look like he has Down Syndrome, would we do it? We both answered No. Why? Well, for one thing, people have expectations of other people. The visual markers for Down Syndrome would warn another person not to condemn him for thinking and acting differently. There is no question that Down Syndrome causes a different mindset, different thinking processes, from what we consider normal.
That said, I want to lay one myth to rest right now. Down Syndrome doesn't necessarily mean a person is mentally retarded. In fact, it is much more complicated than that. It means that he has a different learning style, and a different way of looking at the world. Is that way of thinking WRONG? No! It's just DIFFERENT. In fact, in some ways, that thinking style is to be preferred to the one we espouse.
The person with Down Syndrome has an astronomical IQ when it comes to loving other people. We could use to learn some lessons from such a person.
How many brilliant people wreaked havoc with the human race? How many slaughtered millions of innocent people? People like Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, etc. come to mind. They were brilliant enough to get leadership and keep it, and to get people to do their bidding.
How many people with Down Syndrome wreaked havoc with the human race? NONE. As in zero, zilch, nada, nichevo, nichts. Think about that.
I will show you how to approach the learning style of a person with Down Syndrome, and show WHY it is NOT a clearcut indication that the child will suffer from mental retardation. I would have to say that although the person's outlook is different, and he may not have the same capacity to plan for the future that the rest of us SHOULD have, there are many things a person with Down Syndrome can do quite well, possibly even exceeding the ability of a "normal" person.
The drawing shows the physical appearance of a baby with Down Syndrome. Notice that the eyes are further apart than those of an average person. This is, to me, the most noticeable thing. There are other physical characteristics that can be observed as well.
The image is in the public domain.
What is Down Syndrome?
Down Syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21. This is because although most people have two chromosomes which are numbered 21, a person with Down Syndrome has 3.
There are actually two types of Down Syndrome. In one type, every cell in the person's body has three chromosomes 21. The other is called Mosaicism. In this type, only some of the cells have 3. Others have 2. People with Mosaicism tend to be more like other people than people with full blown Trisomy 21.
The "syndrome", which is to say, the symptoms, were discovered by a man named Down. Dr. Jerome Lejeune identified the cause, namely the extra chromosome 21. Dr. Lejeune spent most of his life advocating for the right to life of people with DS, and looking for a cure. In his later years, he was funded by an organization originally started to take the place of the March of Dimes for pro-life people (since the March of Dimes is heavily tainted with pro-abortion advocacy and research on live babies without anesthetic). The organization, The Michael Fund, still exists, and is available to those who want to learn more about DS, and help fund the research. Among other things, it has been learned that people with Down Syndrome need extra supplements because their body requires them. If these are given, it helps the person develop well. I highly recommend this organization. I know the founder personally.
And by the way, if you are pro-life, you will want to avoid supporting the March of Dimes. Not only do they do these things, but they also refuse to inform parents of programs available to them to help their children, conceal their true position, and absolutely refuse to do anything about their stance. At one time they would offer prenatal testing to parents ONLY IF the parents would agree to an abortion if a "defect" was discovered. I don't know if they still do this, because they're not saying! Many well-meaning people contribute to the March of Dimes. Be informed!
Abortion is Counter-Productive
As I have mentioned, 90% of babies diagnosed with Trisomy 21 are currently being aborted. There is a large number of reasons why this should NOT be done.
First and foremost, these are human beings, and the right to life is a moral absolute, a moral imperative.
Second, if the parents do not feel they are capable of raising the child, there are many waiting adoptive families who will gladly do so.
Third, if a woman has an abortion for this reason, she runs a significant risk of having a baby in the future with another birth defect just as devastating or worse. The incidence of birth defects after abortion increases by 400% after a first trimester abortion. It would be even higher with a later abortion, which is what these usually are, because the syndrome is not detected during the first trimester for most women.
Fourth, the family is depriving itself of someone who just might turn out to be a huge blessing (and usually does) in spite of the difficulties. Anything worth having usually carries a price, and this is no different. But believe me, and I can say this from personal experience, a child with Down Syndrome is worth having! With modern early intervention programs, the difficulty of raising a child with good life skills is greatly ameliorated.
Let's talk a little about the consequences of abortion. To begin with, if they use amniocentesis to detect Down Syndrome, they may successfully identify 1% of children tested with this or some other serious problem. However, the chance of damaging a normal baby is 2%. Not good odds. Nowadays, they use other detection methods. But this is not the end of the story.
The incidence of miscarriage after an abortion of any type that involves opening a cervix not ready to open rises by 400%, and this means losing a wanted child. The incidence of serious birth defects due to extreme prematurity likewise rises by 400%. Thus, a woman is five times as likely to suffer one of these as if she had left well enough alone.
Among the birth defects caused by extreme prematurity are cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, mental retardation, blindness, deafness, eating disorders, and breathing disorders. It is estimated that cerebral palsy treatment and therapy cost the United States over a billion dollars a year. Abortion DOUBLES the incidence of CP in the general population.
Who wants to trade one problem for another? It makes no sense!
Links to Helpful Information about Down Syndrome
- Five Inspirational Moms Who Rejected Abortions on Kids with Down Syndrome.
Encouragement, short stories of mothers who have children with Down Syndrome.
- Down Syndrome
Wikipedia, good information on Down Syndrome. Please ignore any positive statements on abortion.
- Institutos para o Desenvolvimento do Potencial Humano
Raymundo Veras' web site. Has a version in English
- Welcome to Holland
A very famous piece that was written especially for parents who have a disabled child. Well worth reading.
- Undoing Down Syndrome Compound Reverses Learning Deficits in Mice with Trisomy
Hope for young children; can we find something to help older people?
What Makes Them Different?
The most prominent thing I noticed about my nephew is that he is laid back. What I mean by that is that he wasn't born with good muscle tone or the usual curiosity that most children have. I don't really know how else to describe it.
Most early intervention therapy is designed to develop muscle tone in babies with DS. They tend to be flaccid, and they don't try to learn the physical skills needed to learn to walk or do anything else physical, to the same degree as other children. They don't have the same curiosity. You have to teach them to be curious. You CAN! But you have to be very careful how you do it.
Early intervention is really important because we don't learn from our culture, how to raise children with DS. Our culture and our learning environments are designed for "normal" children, who will often learn in spite of the fact that teaching styles don't match their learning styles. HOWEVER, most "normal" children don't learn well, either, unless you solve what J. McVicker Hunt called the Problem of the Match. Simply stated, if you give a child something too easy to learn, he will turn from it out of boredom. If you give him something too difficult, he will turn from it out of frustration. In order for maximum learning to take place, you have to match the current learning level of the child. Most children attend a school with 15 to 35 children of similar age (not similar intellectual development or learning level). They have one teacher, and she must solve the Problem of the Match for each child, or learning won't take place. With 15 to 35 different levels in the same class, this becomes next to impossible. In the average class, which may take an hour, each student may receive, at most, a couple of minutes of individual attention, if the teacher is giving individual attention at all. It is no wonder so many of our children graduate without adequate academic skills, and some of the recent trends in the schools only greatly aggravate the problem.
A child with Down Syndrome is probably a "worst case scenario" because while some children will adapt to a limited degree when the Problem of the Match is not solved, the child with DS tends not to adapt. It's not clear why, but I would be hesitant to say it is because they are mentally retarded, because I am not at all sure this is the major problem, if it exists to any extent.
Remember, the score a child achieves on an IQ test is a measure of how well he does on IQ tests, nothing more. Absolutely, nothing more. It is said that most children with DS have an IQ around 50 to 80. So they are not as adept at taking IQ tests as most children. What does it prove? DernedifIknow. Perhaps the IQ tests were not designed for people with that kind of learning style, or method of evaluating the questions. I'd say the jury is out on what the real problem is.
If you have a child who is not curious, and nobody has induced curiosity in him, it will seem as if he is retarded. A "normal" baby will respond to his mother in some way, providing "feedback" that encourages her efforts to communicate with him, or do other things that help the child learn. If there is no "feedback", the child is going to SEEM mentally retarded, whether he is or not!
Let me tell you why I say these things. My nephew did develop curiosity, and for awhile, he learned very well. In particular, his best learning took place in the area of language. When he was tested at 3 1/2, he had the language development of a 5 year old! He had a very large vocabulary for his age. And he started stringing together two words at 11 months. Glenn Doman (who founded the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential), said a SUPERIOR child does this by 13 months, so my nephew was two months ahead of superior children! But the person who tested him didn't believe he really had that level of language achievement. She called it "echolalia" (he repeats things he hears). That's something like the skill of a parrot, who will learn to say things he is taught to say, without attaching a whole lot of meaning to them. But I can tell you from personal experience what my nephew was demonstrating was NOT echolalia. He really KNEW what he was saying. And my sister sent me a videotape of him having a philosophical discussion with one of his brothers, at the age of 3 1/2. Unfortunately, my sister was talking next to the camera, and I haven't figured out how to edit that out yet, but when I do, so help me, that tape will go on my web site!
If a child with DS can have that kind of language development, is he really mentally retarded? Isn't our label self-limiting?
Perhaps it can be said that each child will have one or two unique gifts where they excel, but have difficulty in other areas. But environment plays such an important role! I watched as the therapists managed to kill my nephew's curiosity. Here's how they did it. They would INSIST that he had to complete an hour of therapy whether he wanted to or not. This is, for sure, a way to kill any willingness on the part of the child. I even discussed this with my sister, and she was aware of the problem, but didn't know what to do about it.
I have one son who came to us with a learning disability that was fairly severe. Since I taught most of our children to read starting at about 4 to 5 years of age, I started trying to teach him as well. He didn't seem to be capable of learning, so we had him extensively tested. Yes, he didn't do that well on an IQ test. And he had significant problems with short term memory. Without going into any further details here (I'll talk about it someplace else), I'll tell you that the psychologist who tested him said he had an attention deficit. NOT! I started trying to teach him again at 4 1/2, and each day we worked for an hour and a half, and I was always the one who got tired first and wanted to quit. How did I get him to that point? When I first started teaching him, I made sure I quit the lesson BEFORE HE WAS READY TO STOP, while he was still interested. It didn't take long, using that technique, to get him to the point where he WANTED to study for an hour and a half.
The reason my sister really couldn't do this was interference from family members. And children with DS can get really stubborn. He wasn't willing to let her teach him. And again, interference from family members prevented her from correcting that problem. So he was stuck.
I can see so many ways in which our whole cultural environment works against children with DS achieving a high level of academic achievement. Whose fault is that? OURS, not theirs.
I once observed a child with DS in a Montessori classroom, and saw that he was able to function very, very well. You couldn't tell by the way he was acting that he was any different from other children in the class. And he was learning! I recommend Montessori as the best method for the child with DS. It solves the Problem of the Match, and lets them learn visually, since apparently this is the best way for them to learn. Most early intervention uses some aspects of Montessori. Unfortunately, their emphasis is on physical skills, not mental ones. They don't believe that mental skills can be developed. That becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Do you know someone with Down Syndrome? In what way do you know them? What do you think of them?
Do you know someone with Down Syndrome?
Discipline Is Critically Important
Disciplining a child who SEEMS not to have the same level of understanding as other children can be a bit of a problem. So can disciplining a child with any kind of serious medical condition or disability. But it is just as necessary! Learning HOW to discipline is the trick.
This section was really difficult to write, because these days, too many people think that spanking is unacceptable, or even a form of abuse. However, it is biblical, and we really shouldn't apologize for it if this is the thing that works best. When a child SEEMS to have limited understanding, it probably will work better than reasoning with the child. If you have the kind of authority behavior that makes spanking unnecessary, then kudos to you. For the most part, we did. We were fortunate. Our oldest son said of us that we had a Presence, and that's why people kept the rules.
Regardless of whether you personally agree with spanking or not, it would be inappropriate to judge people who do, and use it properly. God gave their children to them with the understanding that they are to raise them in a responsible way. My parents only used spanking as a deterrent. For awhile, I didn't know of any other way to discipline, though I made it a point to learn. Trying to interfere in a family where the children appear to be happy and have not been physically injured can cause far more damage than leaving them alone. I have seen tragedies as a result of interference. That said, there is one kind of behavior I find unacceptable: belittling the child. Some parents just have an inner rage and express themselves this way. And I have seen black mothers belittle their children in an attempt to inoculate them against cruel racist comments. I find this unacceptable. I do not recommend it.
Not everyone believes in spanking and I will neither advocate for or against it. However, I have no problem with it if it works for parents, as long as they always spank on the buttocks and no place else. If a child bruises easily, he may develop a bruise or he may not. But it should never, ever cause any other kind of damage, and if a child bruises easily, it is important to find out why and correct the problem. It may be a medical problem. Supplements may make all the difference.
I prefer natural consequences. To the best of your ability match the disciplinary action to what the child did. It is hard to explain, at least for me, how this is done. However, I would like to make note of a couple of things. Some parents use time out. The problem with this, as I see it, is that you are basically incarcerating the child for ten minutes. I really don't know how sound a punishment that is in the final analysis. Some parents like to try to explain why the behavior was inappropriate. I have a problem with this because it often turns into a lecture, sometimes a very long one. Most really young children haven't developed enough reasoning ability for this to work well.
The most I can say is that you need to discipline so that the child becomes willing to do what you tell him to do. It is important that he be trained to obey instantly, because it could save his life. You need to be able to yell his name and have him stop INSTANTLY. Then if he starts to run in front of a car, you can save his life with your voice.
We reserved spanking for only two things: open rebellion, and doing something dangerous. Here is why. Open rebellion precludes the child from being willing to accept essential discipline, and may prevent the child from being able to develop good personal ethics. I have a friend who absolutely did not believe in spanking. She raised her older child with attempts to explain. It turned into her saying a lot of things that eventually became nasty and abusive. The children complied from this alone, so she didn't see it as a problem. However, he turned into someone who simply didn't develop personal responsibility, and so far, he hasn't really accomplished anything of significance with his life, but instead, has caused himself all sorts of unnecessary problems. But with the younger one, my friend came to me when he was 3, and she said, that her method with the older one was simply not working, and she was at her wit's end, because he was a little brat. She said, "I don't believe in spanking, but that's what it seems is needed." I told her to go ahead and spank him when he needed it. He straightened out very fast, and became a high achiever.
If used properly, spanking may only be needed a handful of times. The trick is to catch the teachable moment, when the spanking will actually accomplish the goal of teaching the child the necessity of obedience and character.
The other time we spanked was when the children did something dangerous. We didn't warn them. The first time they did something dangerous, they got spanked. The purpose of this was to teach them how to avoid truly risky behavior instinctively. The result was that, since they were free to do pretty much what they wanted during free time (such as climb mountains in small groups or with a dog), they also learned to avoid injury. I can recall only two occasions when anyone needed any emergency room care, and one of those two times it most definitely was NOT the fault of the child. The other time, it was an accident, so not really avoidable, either, since what he was doing at the time was a normal activity. In adulthood, the children have been willing to try things that seem risky, but so far, they have escaped serious injury, so apparently this worked. It teaches them that certain things have physical consequences, and it does seem to help them develop the instinct.
In other cases, you may not be able to control what the child does, but you can control what YOU do. I will give a specific example. My nephew came one morning to get me out of bed to fix his cereal for him. Hey, he was in his teens, and there is really NO reason he shouldn't have poured his own cereal and milk, so I told him I was still asleep, and he should do it.
He responded by pouring milk all over the cushion on his grandmother's chair. Then he refused to apologize to her (and yes, children with DS CAN be quite stubborn!). He was willing to tell Jesus he was sorry, but not his grandma.
So here's what I did. I told him that I had been planning to take him on a walk, but I changed my mind because of his misbehavior. I told him I was going to take a nap instead, and I did! It took several hours for him to make up his mind to apologize, but ultimately he did!
So changing what YOU do can work well.
Whatever you do, work to find the method of discipline that works best.
And love your child unconditionally at all times. Never, ever discipline while you are angry. Calm down first. Choose in advance how many swats you will give if you choose to spank. If you don't decide that in advance, then the child will learn to cry early to manipulate you. And don't let the child play you off against the other parent. Be united in your expectations and actions.
Before I leave this topic, I will tell you a story. I knew a family with six children. Three of them were adopted. One of the adopted ones was very easygoing, and responded well to reasoning type of discipline. However, one year she got a teacher who was a verbal abuser. The child had no fortitude, so the result was that she actually became physically ill and simply couldn't tolerate the class. One of the critical things to teach a child is fortitude. A perfect life for any child is simply not helpful. There is no such thing as a perfect life, and no matter how hard you try, you won't achieve one for your child. We are a perverse species, and require a certain amount of adversity to thrive. That is how we develop the character traits that will help us to be successful at life. Children who are given the "perfect" life growing up will become spoiled brats. And incidentally, they may also turn against their parents, saying their parents weren't good enough, and even rejecting them outright. We found this out the hard way as we spared our children some of the misery we had gone through growing up. I made sure I was never cruel to any of them, to the best of my ability. But that didn't stop some of them from thinking we put them through living heqq. You can't win!
Just do the best you can. Find out what works, and apply it, lovingly. Let them know how much you love them. If they choose not to hear, that's up to them, but you will know you tried.
The Sad Part and the Happy Part
There is a SERIOUS deficiency in how we provide for children with DS. While there are many excellent early intervention programs, most schools seem to lack real knowledge of how to educate them academically.
My nephew ended up getting a substandard education because the only school really available to him was a public school. They tried to mainstream him. Sometimes this works well, and other times it doesn't. A lot depends on the teacher, and many simply do not know how to help someone with DS, to learn academically.
I'll tell you about one teacher. I don't even remember his name now, but I talked to him several times. He taught fifth grade in public school, and his classroom was for children who had DS and other "disabilities". By the time the children left his class, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM could read. How did he do it? PHONICS! A lot of people will tell you that DS children can't learn with phonics. Don't believe them! When there is reason to believe that a child has limited learning capacity, the LAST thing you want to do is make learning unnecessarily difficult by requiring the child learn far MORE than necessary. Sight words force children to learn thousands of different symbols in order to learn to read. This is no better than trying to teach him Chinese, and just as unnecessary. While it is true that many English words break the rules of phonics, 85% do NOT, and should be taught that way. Phonics should be the FIRST method taught.
There are a number of less obvious reasons why phonics should be taught. The major one is that it teaches the child that the universe is orderly and rational, and that it is worth the effort to try to learn about these aspects of creation.
Now suppose that the child is a visual learner. Use Montessori reading materials. Use the sandpaper letters. Use the red and blue letters. Red is very attractive to a baby and toddler and can be used, with large enough letters, to teach reading even to a baby. I know it because a friend of mine did it after I explained how to do it. But usually the print is too small, and if they don't use red, the letters won't hold the baby's attention as well.
With our son with the learning disability, I started with phonics. Many people complain that children don't move from that to do sight reading. So what I did when he didn't make the move is, I started using words he had sounded many times as sight words, and he quickly made the transition. After six months of reading instruction, I turned him loose. A couple of years later, I saw that he was having difficulty reading polysyllabic words. So I showed him how to break words down into syllables. Some years later, he demonstrated that he can read medical texts easily. Mission accomplished!
If the child with DS isn't quite making it with phonics, use words he has sounded out many times as sight words.
So my nephew didn't thrive in school, and nobody did anything about it. It makes me furious, but I didn't have any say, so that's how things turned out.
On the other hand, he retained his deep love of language, and after a few years, I was talking to him on the phone, and he said, "Aloha!" He knew what it meant, too. That's when I learned he was interested in learning foreign languages. I had the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks with him, and during that time, I started working on teaching him Spanish and German. The Spanish was because he said he wanted to learn it. The German is because that was what his mother wanted him to learn. We would play Uno. They modified the rules so that cards were laid out on the table, so he could use strategy to win the game. It worked very well, and he was an excellent player. When we were handing out the cards, I would count them in Spanish. I would ask him which language, and he said Spanish, so that's what I did. Over the supper table, we would teach him German words. Most of us knew at least some German. By the time I had to end my visit, he was starting to say two word phrases in German. I wish I could have worked with him for a much longer period of time. I am sure I could have taught him a lot.
One of the things he loves to do is to say "Thank you" to people. This is in keeping with the personality most DS people exhibit. So we taught him how to say "Thank you" in various languages. I taught him the Hawai'ian term, "mahalo", when I talked to him on the phone that time. One night when we ate at a Chinese restaurant, he asked how to say "Thank you" in Chinese, and I told him. He then thanked the server in Chinese, and the server nodded his head. Another time when we went to a Chinese restaurant, he told the server "Danke" (German) and I explained he has to say it in Chinese, and reminded him of how to say it, so he said it in Chinese, and the server started talking to him in Chinese! It was a precious moment for me.
You see, when you teach with intensity, children with DS can learn very well. The trick is to learn HOW to do this while keeping the child's curiosity alive. It's tricky. You have to develop an instinct for it. Watch the child. She will give you clues. Act on those clues.
Demonstrating Reasoning Ability
The occasion was a visit to my family when my nephew was 3. Two incidents happened, which I think make my point.
On the first occasion, my nephew was in the playpen and wanted out. So he asked for a hug. He was constantly asking for hugs anyway because he is naturally loving and affectionate, but he also learned to use this request to his advantage. He thought that if he could get me to hug him, maybe he could then act like he wanted to get down outside the playpen, and I would set him down. I figured him out real fast, and found it quite amusing, but it illustrated the point that his reasoning ability was developed enough so that he could be quite devious to get what he wanted.
The second occasion was when I was playing the organ. He asked for a hug. So I picked him up and hugged him and as soon as I did so, he turned around and started playing the organ. That's what he wanted: he wanted access to the organ keys, and he used the subterfuge of wanting a hug to get there!
Don't tell me they can't reason. They do. Just learn to capitalize on this to teach the child many different things. COUNT on him being able to reason, because he can! Don't let all those naysayers out there discourage you.
The Institutes for the Development of Human Potential
Glenn Doman and Dr. Raymundo Veras
Glenn Doman started by working with brain injured children. You may recall knowing about patterning. This is when people will move the limbs of children in a crawling motion. It is said to help with motor development. Doman came up with this idea. He also developed many other ideas. His method is characterized by giving children encyclopedic knowledge. His method is all rote. He doesn't teach phonics; he teaches "look and guess". It works with children ONLY because infants have more brain power than any of the rest of us, and as his brain power declines with age, so will his ability to learn much through rote. Don't fall for the temptation to use rote learning for this reason. It is counter-productive in the end. Teach phonics for the reasons I have given you. Teach it to babies. Since they are learning language, they have a natural aptitude for phonics, because they are learning how to put words together in general.
Encyclopedic knowledge involves learning many, many factoids. For example, a child can learn to name many, many different things, when shown pictures. He can learn to name the musical instruments in the orchestra, many different species of birds and butterflies, and so forth. This is fine. Parents spend an inordinate amount of time making flash cards with pictures of different things on them, for naming. This is a waste of time as far as I am concerned. But it's how he does it. Doman is fanatical, and he acculturates parents to be fanatical, too. Take the child many places, and teach him the names from real life! Make cards if you want. Use books with pictures already in them. I like teaching children encyclopedic knowledge, and there is no reason why a child with DS cannot learn many bits of information.
Another thing that seems to fit hand in glove with Doman's methods is Suzuki music lessons. This is another method of rote learning, and I'll tell you that it is usually very ineffective, because while very young children can learn to play in a flawless way, in the end, they lose interest in music, because the method is wrong. The first part of the method is excellent. Expose your child to continuous music from before birth. Choose one musical composition in particular to play frequently. A favorite choice is Bach's double violin concerto. It's a difficult piece. Then Suzuki says, give the child a child-sized violin, and he will figure out how to play it. That part is probably good as well. However, that's when the impossibly boring drill starts. Children end up playing Twinkle Variations for many months before they graduate to a new piece. This may work very well in Japan, where the entire educational method is based on that kind of perfectionist rote learning. It doesn't work in the western world.
I remember one incident clearly. One of our sons is gifted in classical guitar. After three years of study, he attended a seminar taught by the head guitar professor at the local university. There he met a boy who was a year older than he. The boy had been studying for four years, and had advanced only a short way past Twinkle. Our son was already playing some concert level pieces. The boy thought he had no talent! I was crushed to watch this happen!
Hey, I have seen orchestras with which Suzuki toured the world. Obviously, he chose the best players in all of Japan, and watching and listening to them brought tears to my eyes. Midori, a violinist I talk about in my lens about Green, was Suzuki trained, if I recall correctly. She was a success story. Unfortunately, as I have said, most children never survive the experience. I do not recommend Suzuki lessons. And by the way, a child needs and deserves to learn to read music, and since Suzuki does everything rote and doesn't teach children to read music at first, he stunts their musical growth in the long run.
I remember another incident. A woman I knew had raised her two children on Suzuki. The boy studied piano, and he was very good. He could play Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, and that is NOT a trivial piece. The girl studied violin, and she was reasonably good. However, she was very rigid, and there are certain violin techniques you cannot perform if you cannot be loose. When the girl tried out for a youth string orchestra, she was not accepted. This made her mother angry, and her mother called our son, who HAD been accepted, and tore him down, and made him lose all the joy he had at being accepted. I was furious with her. I personally think the girl deliberately flunked her audition because she was tired of the pressure.
Not too long after that, my son and I visited her home, where a few of the students were going to practice one of their pieces. I observed how the girl was so rigid and tense. The mother had been spending a lot of time defaming the orchestra director for not accepting her child, and I was tired of it. So while I was sitting there watching, the mother came up to me and started boasting about her Steinway piano. I have never liked Steinways for reasons I explain elsewhere, but I listened for awhile, and decided I needed to fix the constant defamation. I knew the mother knew virtually nothing about music, so I asked her if I could try her piano. She agreed, so I sat down and pulled off all the pyrotechnics of which I was capable. And that was the LAST time I EVER heard a word of complaint about the music director! *Whew!*
After that diversion, back to the topic. Dr. Raymund Veras was a pediatrician in Brazil. He had many parents of children with Down Syndrome coming to him for help with their development. He was working with Glenn Doman, so he devised a way to teach them. Doman didn't think it was possible to apply his methods for brain damaged children to children with DS, so he didn't think Dr. Veras knew what he was talking about. So he told Dr. Veras, show me ONE child who was successfully trained. He went to visit Dr. Veras, and Dr. Veras showed him a little girl who clearly had Down Syndrome. She was, if I recall correctly, about 4 years old. Not only could she read in four languages, but she could also play the violin. Doman was convinced!
Videos of People with Down Syndrome - Give them a chance to achieve.
Mixed Martial Arts, an instructor in his own school.
Don't Be Afraid
A child with Down Syndrome is a priceless gift from God.
In my family, the arrival of a child with Down Syndrome healed a seriously dysfunctional family. There were many problems with family members getting along and loving each other. The arrival of my nephew changed all that. Oh, they still have some level of difficulty, but nothing like what they had before. I was jealous she got the boy with DS and I didn't. But God was right to choose their family.
When my sister was pregnant with him, the doctor offered her amniocentesis. She turned him down. She said she wouldn't have an abortion anyway, so there was no point. I concur completely. And by the way, I wouldn't want to CURE him if I could, because they he wouldn't be who he is!
Don't be afraid to have your child if he or she is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. God knows what He is doing if He gives you such a child. If you don't feel capable of raising him or her, choose adoption. Perhaps that's why God gave you this child. But these days, there are more resources available for them than ever before. As long as you fight for the right of your child to receive intellectual therapy, and follow up with Montessori if you can, you will be astonished at how well your child can do, but either way, you will be even more astonished by what a wonderful gift your child has been. Just trust God, and go with the flow. You will see what I am talking about for yourself. God will give you the grace you need. And there are people like my sister who will gladly mentor you.
Just trust. Don't be afraid. The rewards are worth it.
Some of these books are not books I am familiar with. They look worth reading, so I will recommend them here, possibly with reservations.
Life Is a Blessing: A Biography of JÃ©rÃ´me Lejeune
by Clara Lejeune-Gaymard
First and foremost, read this one! I am unhappy that it is available only for Kindle, because I don't have one and I don't want one. I hope they come out with a print version. But from what I know of Dr. Lejeune, this would be well worth reading.
Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives
by Kathryn Lynard Soper
I had just gotten this book. I had a hard time putting it down to work on this article.
Down Syndrome Parenting 101: Must-Have Advice for Making Your Life Easier
by Natalie Hale
Teaching Reading to Children With Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Teachers (Topics in Down Syndrome)
by Patricia Logan Oelwein
I honestly don't know if this book will be helpful, and I will explain why elsewhere, but if you are finding it too much of a challenge otherwise, it would be worth it to read this book.
Please let me hear from you. Let me know you visited, and what your thoughts are. God bless you!