I received an email during the week from a woman who had some concerns about my stance on the reading and maths programs for kids. Here is my reply:
…Just as 10 years ago I couldn’t have anticipated how I would respond to having a child with Down syndrome, I don’t know that I would do these reading and maths programs with my daughters if I had my time again – even with all of my newfound knowledge. At 12 & 13, they are balanced, intelligent, responsible and community minded people and to me these approaches were not necessary for their development. For kids with neurological challenges however, these methods seem to ignite learning pathways which can then be used in other areas of life.
I have observed in my son – and now many other children – that he LOVES the confidence which comes from being able to recognise words and to do sums – which is important for a child whose speech is not yet where it should be (though it is improving all the time). Some of the families I am in contact with have kids who are immobile – if they don’t have a communication method this creates huge frustration – this program provides a conduit for interaction and the results are stunning – even in kids who are older, they can learn this way too.
Self esteem is a huge factor for these children, I believe, and when it’s good, self esteem begets momentum in all areas of learning. The reading program has definitely helped Gryffin with speech development and his understanding is exceptional – his vocabulary in terms of understanding is at least age appropriate for a neuro-typical child – which again for communication is a wonderful thing for him to have achieved!
My wish for ‘well’ children is to help parents understand what is available to them in terms of natural therapies (in preference to our more common modern medical model) through sharing our story, and to enlighten parents on just what their young children are capable of. So many parents don’t engage with their kids in preference to putting them in front of a screen – which drives me mad – so to me, even if parents of ‘well’ children do decide to run reading and maths programs with their kids, at least it encourages language and interaction!
At best these kids have an extraordinary start in life!
While out shopping this week, my son (not yet 4) read aloud from a sign he saw in a store. Earlier in the week he counted – on his fingers 1 + 2 + 1 = 4. Words cannot describe the pride he feels in himself when he does things like this. How could I not give him this gift?