Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sweet Pea Proving "Them" Wrong

When Sweet Pea was in the NICU on one of her first few days in this world, we met with a genetic counselor to go over what her having Down syndrome meant.  How I wish that I hadn't had that meeting!  Our genetic counselor was from the dark ages clearly!  He told us in very clear words that she would never learn to read, write or ride a bike.  We didn't know how 100% wrong he was at the time and that made her diagnosis that much harder on us.  I mean, come on, those are fairly basic skills in life and if our daughter wasn't going to be able to do those things, what would she be able to do?  (I'm tearing up just writing about this even after 3 years!)  I've since learned that those 3 items aren't the end all, be all of life, but at the time they certainly seemed critical.  Thank goodness he couldn't have been more wrong.  Unfortunately I've heard that our experience was far from unique and I am glad that there is a strong push within the Down syndrome community to change how genetic counselors speak with parents about their children who have Down syndrome.

At the ripe old age of 3, Sweet Pea is already starting to read!  Way to prove him wrong!  (Oh, and yes, I am finally getting the nerve to write him a letter and show him how wrong he was so that hopefully he doesn't make life as hard on any other new parents.)

As part of Down Syndrome Awareness Month I want to show that Sweet Pea is more alike than different and in some ways she is ahead of some of her typical peers.  Not very many 3 year olds can read, but Sweet Pea is on her way as this video will show:

We use a combination of sources for teaching her to read.  It started when she was quite young with using the See and Learn First Words flashcards.  (You can see an old video of her doing the matching steps here and another video of her naming all the flashcards here).  Sweet Pea loved going through the flashcards and learned the More First Words set even faster than the first set.  It was during this time that we started introducing the See and Learn First Written Words to Sweet Pea and she really enjoyed them as well.  We have since added a few different books into the mix from the DSFOC Learning Program collection.  On top of that I have attended trainings by Terry Brown of So Happy To Learn and also Natalie Hale of Special Reads for Special Needs.  I've learned great tips at each of these trainings and between these trainings and ideas from Grandma I know that Sweet Pea has a bright reading future ahead of her.

Yes, Sweet Pea is pretty young to be learning to read, but she LOVES doing it so we are encouraging it, but not pushing it.  We know that we are very lucky that Sweet Pea has the internal motivation to want to learn.  We are told quite often by her teachers how lucky we are and what a joy she is to have in their classes because of that desire to learn.

Kids with Down syndrome might take longer to learn some things, but in their own time and in their own way,  they will do it!


  1. Two things: (1) I love how you can hear Bean say "Key Words" in the background, and (2) I'll help you write that letter to that [unfit to print] doctor. You know I have NO problem telling people off.

  2. That is incredible. My daughter is 6 and is just learning to read. Lucas is just learning to say words although I'm sure if we worked on it he could do some sight reading. It's hard to find time, excuses I know! But anyway, I hope you do send that counselor a letter. A good doctor supplements his knowledge with "current" knowledge and obviously he has not. We were lucky and talked with someone at the Center for Down Syndrome and they were awesome.