A Little Something Extra

Monday, October 3, 2011

31 for 21 Day 3: Learning styles in children with Down syndrome

Okay, so no one asked me about this (because I have no other questions from my readers, hint hint), but I'm going to address what is, in my mind, something critical that all parents of kids with Down syndrome understand.

Our kids tend to learn differently than "typically-developing" kids.

Am I stereotyping?  Yep.  Is that okay?  Sometimes.

I read a quote on FB today on a page dedicated to iPad apps for kids with special needs.  I think it's great!  It was written by someone named Jean.  She used an ancient Chinese proverb as the base for her analysis:

Tell Me and I Will Forget
Children with speech language disorders do not learn well in a lecture style formats that take place in schools. They easily become overwhelmed by too much auditory input and shut down.  ** personal note: This is a BIG deal with Micah.

Show Me and I May Remember
Using visuals like schedules and social stories to assist in the explanation of language helps in the learning process.

Involve Me and I Will Understand
Hands on projects and activities assist in embedding the learning and making it real.

The Chinese proverb is generally true for everyone.  But Jean put legs to it for our kids who tend to be visual (rather than auditory) learners.  Individuals with Down syndrome tend to be visual learners.  Apparently all babies start life as visual learners, and we progress to auditory.

There's a small bit of controversy within the Ds community as to whether we should tap primarily into the visual learning style or spend time developing the auditory style.  I'd love to hear some feedback and discussion on my opinions here.

I'll give an example of Micah's visual learning strength.  I think most kids learn the alphabet via the classic alphabet song.  My "bookend kids" (oldest and youngest) are no exception.  Micah, however, learned the alphabet in many ways.  Our primary teaching tool was foam letters you can use in the tub.  He would pick one up and we would tell him what it was.  The book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is another favorite.  This kid THRIVES on repetition.  He also loved seeing us sign the alphabet (this is partly a function of the struggle to get this child to eat... we got sick of counting every bite so we started doing the alphabet).

Visual "schedules" are also very important.  This is true in most typically-developing kids too.  I mean, how would YOU like it if you went through your entire day not knowing where someone was going to drag you next?  Guilty as charged.  I need to do a better job at this at home.  But Micah's teachers do a great job at school.  There are pictures inside his locker that show what he has to do before going to the play area (hang up his backpack, take off his coat, hang up his coat, close his locker, wash his hands, and dry his hands).  I love this post another mom wrote a few days ago.

I'll do a separate post on reading.  But in a nutshell, kids with Down syndrome tend to not understand phonetic reading until a few years into school.  Learning sight words prior to Kindergarten really give them a boost when they enter school.  We're starting a bit of that with Micah.

Working memory is the biggest challenge for our kids with designer genes.  I think I'll address that when I discuss reading programs.  Some of you out there work with medications for your kids to help with the memory issues.  Anyone care to comment?  I know gingko is a "drug" of choice for some.  We haven't tried it (yet) with Micah.  I'm planning to ask his cardiologist about it on Friday at his checkup.  I've heard that it has some blood-thinning properties and I want to make sure that it won't have an effect on his valve leakages.

Bring on some more questions, friends!!!

1 comment:

paige said...

if you could write a post for the parents who have just gotten the prenatal diagnosis of down syndrome, what would you say to them?