Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Dreaming Big

Phoenix has been doing well lately. So well that I don't really think about her being delayed. I know she IS delayed, but usually I live in a little bubble of happiness about what an amazing little kid she is that her delays just fade into the background.

But the spark of intelligence in her face and in her eyes has started to push the parameters of what I had thought was possible for her in the future.

I've started to dream again. I've started to allow myself to think about a future where a trade or a career isn't off the table. Where Phoenix will move into an apartment as a young adult and cook her own meals, and clean and decorate her own place and go to school or her job like any other young person.

These are hard words to write because I have been so critical of other parents in the disability community making bold statements like "I expect my child to go to college" or "My child is going to own their own home". I still mostly think they are ridiculous. But I've started to dream anyway. For the record, I don't expect that Phoenix will go to university; I don't expect her to own her own home. But I am daring to dream that Phoenix will be able to have an average ability to learn, grow and develop. And that her inborn talents will allow her to achieve the independence that most young people attain. That her future will have options, and possibilities and that she, and I, can dream.

Now, I normally hate pictures where Phoenix has her tongue hanging out. It just screams "Down syndrome" to me. Yes, I appreciate the irony of what I've just written. However, in this pic Phoenix is purposely sticky out her tongue to be a cheeky little monkey. So I am posting it to show the world how cute my daughter with DS is. Even with her tongue stuck out.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Preschool Open House

Yesterday we met Phoenix's preschool team. The school had an open house for the parents and kids who are planning to attend in the fall. I actually went to the open house last year, not knowing that Phoenix's birthday fell 9 days after  the cut off for registration. So I was able to ask many of my questions before hand and just listen to get to know the team. The teacher will have 2-3 aides in the classroom with a maximum of 15 children enrolled, making the ratio 3:1 students to staff. That's pretty good I think. Also the SLP. OT and PT work in the classroom 1.5 days a week. They do individual and small group instruction (all play based), and they teach the aides how to work with the kids in their absence. Awesome. There are also family days where the team meets the parents to show us how to work with our kids at home. Equally awesome. I'm psyched.

We brought Phoenix with us to the open house and she spent the time with one of the aides playing. They hit it off and Phoenix made herself at home in the classroom right away. This is great, because it tells me that she should have an easy time adapting to her new school. Her flexibility and sociability is a huge bonus for her in life. It allows her to navigate new situations with confidence and ease.

Now all we need to do is work on toilet training (insert grumpy face). Phoenix continues to sporadically tell us when she wants to go potty, but it is not consistent, and diapers are still the constant. The idea is to give it a good effort once my summer vacation starts, and I am able to spend all day with her trying.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

More Gross Motor play

We recently went to play gym after about an 8 week absence. We had bad weather and illness and travel and more illness before we were finally able to make it back for a visit. Which is a good thing because we pay by the month whether we use it or not. What I love about play gym is that Phoenix is now so comfortable there that that she confidently attempts the new structures. I try to arrive a little early to let her try out the apparatuses before the other kids arrive. Here she is on an incline mat. She did all the steps by herself without any assistance. Go Phoenix!

 Dancing with the hula hoop.  

Climbing the bridge

And this is parachute time. She knows now to move to the side of the mat, pick up the chute and start shaking.

That's it for now. Happy Sunday!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

More Sight Words

So I introduced about 40 sight words last week with our bathtub foam shapes. Many of the words I had introduced already in other ways (writing on her magnetic board etc). I am pleasantly surprised at her ability to learn most of them in a very short period of time. I'd say there are about 5 that she doesn't know and she is so open to reading them and playing with them at bath time.

So I made some more. this time I did a little bit of research and found the 100 most common sight words. Many of the words I had already chosen were on this list, so I have continued to follow it with adding 40 more words. I also have added 20  words that are part of Phoenix's common lexicon such as: cookie, home, milk, shirt, pants, clothes, coat, fish, turtle, cow, horse, sheep etc and words that I feel will benefit her transition to preschool in the fall such as: teacher and school.

I gave her the latter set of words last night and am so surprised at how quickly she learns them. There were at least 5 or 6 that she remembered after just one introduction of the word. And she is so open to many repetitions of words she didn't remember yet.

It gives me so much hope for the future that at 3 she already loves to learn! We are going to an open house next week for her preschool. I am so psyched to be able to meet her learning team and to see what types of things they are going to be teaching her.

Here she is practising her words:

And a cute photo.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Daily pic

My Mother was recently compaining, to anyone who would listen, how hard done she is because I never send her pictures of my daughter. She has a close friend whose DIL sends her a new pic of the grand kid everyday. And now my Mother doesn't understand why it is such a big deal to send her a daily picture too.

Sigh. Well, up until recently I was taking pictures with my camera with which I had to insert the data card into the computer and download new pics. We don't actually take that many pics of Phoenix, and it feels like a lot of effort to be downloading them every day just to send a pic to my Mother.

So my talented sister took a bunch of photos over our March break and she sends both of us one picture a day to ration them out. Thanks Sis!

Here is today's picture:

I will say that the nagging has worked. Now that I have an iPhone, it is much easier to email pics from my phone to share with my Mother. And there have been no complaints. She's able to keep up with the Jone's in terms of the Grandmother competitions. Who knew that the Mommy Wars wasn't the end of the competition?

Monday, 15 April 2013

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Sight words!

Now that Phoenix confidently knows her alphabet and numbers I really wanted to start teaching sight words. We have been doing a few sight words on her magnetic drawing board, but nothing too consistently.The only problem is that the favourite way to teach sight words in the DS community is through the use of flashcards. And it is a good method for kids who are willing. Individual word reading is a significant skill for kids with DS.

I introduced flash cards to Phoe about a year ago and it has been a huge failure. She hates them. She starts yelling "no,no,no" and pushes them away. Which is interesting since this kid LOVES learning. She just doesn't want to learn through the use of flash cards.

Ok. Regroup.

One of her favourite time to practise letters and numbers is bath time. We have foamy toys which are numbers and letters that stick to the side of the tub. She loves them, and loves identifying what each one is. I finally came up with the idea that I should look for foamy sight words - which I didn't find commercially, but found a variation on Pinterest that I could make myself. So off to the dollar store I went to find foamy cut outs and made my own sight words. It's been a huge hit! We've only been using them a few days, but already there are over 30 words that Phoenix knows by sight! I know she knows them because when I hold the word up for her she says it out loud. This is great not only for her pre-reading knowledge, but also for her continued progress in speech.

However, your child doesn't have to be speaking to teach them words. The other way to test their knowledge is to introduce a few words and then place 3-4 in from of the child and ask them to pick the word you are looking for. Easy peasy.

Last night, here are the words she could correctly identify the first time:

I'm excited for Phoenix who is embarking upon a lifelong journey of the love of words. But I am more excited for ME because I was able to work around her resistance to find an activity that would help her learn a really fundamental body of knowledge.