Friday, 22 June 2012

The Joy of Reading

Am I cute or what?
I've always thought reading is very important for children's development. It encourages imagination; it increases knowledge, and let's face it, the world really is your oyster if you can read. All of our kids are avid readers and even before they could read the words themselves they loved story time and looking through picture books. Before Felix was even born we bought a couple of books to read to him as soon as he was in our arms. We knew that reading would be a vital part of his development.

Kids with Down Syndrome very often have a particular subject they are very interested in. For example, they may be fascinated with the human body and how it works. They will be able to tell you intricate details about organs and muscles and tell you what the different body parts are called. Reading, for someone with Down Syndrome, is a pathway to so much knowledge.

We were singing, "Bear's now asleep...
Sh! Sh! Sh!"
I've been reading a new book on Down Syndrome and read something really interesting today. The author said that if a child with Down Syndrome starts school already being able to read, the teachers at the school will then set the bar so much higher for that child because they will see tangibly how much that child is capable of learning. She mentioned the shock people often showed that her son (with Down Syndrome) could read when he started school. She mentions stories of even non-verbal children with Down Syndrome who can read really well by the time they go to school. It's definitely food for thought. I hope Felix continues to enjoy reading books and hopefully we will have some success with him learning to read too.

We've been having fun learning some more signs with the books we bought. Felix has attempted some new ones while we've been reading them. He can sign 'car' and 'monkey' consistently now when I ask him. It's amazing how quickly he remembers them. This afternoon, Noah was looking very sleepy and his eyelids were getting heavier and heavier. Felix reached out to him and started signing, 'sleep'. How gorgeous!! His favourite sign at the moment is 'eat'. When we get him up in the mornings, the first thing he signs is 'Daddy' followed by 'eat' and then he points towards the door as if to say, "Kitchen is that you go!" He may not be able to speak verbally, but he certainly gets his message across.

Do I have something between my teeth?
I think one of the most important things we can do with our children who have Down Syndrome, is to have high standards for them. If we think they won't be able to do something then they probably won't. If we think they can do something, then they probably will. Set realistic goals and expect that your child will have success. If you, as a parent, are not going to expect great things for your child then how can you expect Teachers, Physios and Speech Pathologists to expect great things? People with Down Syndrome are capable of SO much. They just need the opportunity and encouragement to show us!

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