Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Flash Card Power


Flash Card Power
Did you know that eighty-five percent of people are visual learners?

Visual memory and visual processing are especially strong in children with Down syndrome, and they should be taught in visual ways. Flash cards are an inexpensive, easy way to teach visual learners. I have been reading about some very specific methods of using flashcards that are really interesting.

Now don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE proponent of teaching phonics. I am currently using a phonics based program each day with Adam. I just know that phonics is an auditory learning system. It works when children have sufficient auditory short-term memory. For phonics to work, a child must be able to hold individual sounds together and form them into a word. With everything, there needs to be balance. Teaching sight words is good. Teaching phonics is good. Why not use both methods to reach children rather than an all or nothing approach?

The "fast flash" method is simply going through word or picture cards quickly, much more quickly than you would typically think to go. Why so fast? Presenting information at high speed is more easily processed by the right brain and makes learning effortless. Plus, children learn at a very rapid pace, and moving quickly keeps their attention.

Here's a video of the fast flash method from the "Down Syndrome- Up Up Up and Away!" blog. Notice that the child is not being quizzed. The goal is to give input to the child. The adult is the one saying the words. The child just watches and takes in the information.


Right now, I am only using pictures with Levi, not words. Although after seeing the following video from the "Down Syndrome: A Day to Day Guide" blog, I thought maybe I should start.


If you are interested in learning more about the fast flash method,
"Special Reads" is a website with some detailed instructions.

You may want to consider making PowerPoints instead of making flash cards. There are also videos like this one on youtube.



Resources:

How fast should flash cards be shown. (2011) Retrieved from: http://www.brillbaby.com/early-learning/flash-card-faqs/how-fast-should-flash-cards-be-shown-to-babies.php

Ringoen, C. (1999). Phonic vs. sight reading. Retrieved from: http://www.specialhelps.com/Articles/PhonicVSSightReading.htm

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Big Week at "Living by Faith"



Boy, have we got some catching up to do! I was away with an impressive group of teens at a youth retreat in Gatlinburg, TN over the weekend. The speakers were powerful, and I really got a lot out of the weekend. Levi was sick, and I hated being gone, but Wes is great with the boys. He encouraged me to sign up to chaperone this event in the first place because he knew how much I'd enjoy it, and he really wanted me to go and participate.

Tomorrow, I will be featured on "Far Above Rubies," a blog devoted to promoting Biblical womanhood. I am honored by the invitation and hope you will stop by to check it out and read the other inspiring articles found there. The founder of "Far Above Rubies" has been asked by many of her readers how to handle people that are insensitive to their childens' special needs and asked if I'd write something to address people that are unkind. The article will encourage godly attitudes towards difficult people in any situation, and I think it will be helpful to anyone regardless of where they are at in life.

Here are a few scrapbook pages I made while riding in the church van to Gatlinburg Friday evening. Hope you'll stop by again this week!



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Seeing Things from God's Side


I wanted to share a story to encourage you. I have had it in a file for years. It is one of the most encouraging stories I have ever read. I hope it touches your heart today...
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When I was a little boy, my mother used to embroider a great deal. I would sit at her knee and look up from the floor and ask what she was doing. She informed me that she was embroidering. I told her that it looked like a mess from where I was. As from the underside I watched her work within the boundaries of the little round hoop that she held in her hand, I complained to her that it sure looked messy from where I sat. She would smile at me, look down and gently say, “My son, you go about your playing for awhile, and when I am finished with my embroidering, I will put you on my knee and let you see it from my side.”

I would wonder why she was using some dark threads along with the bright ones and why they seemed so jumbled from my view. A few minutes would pass and then I would hear Mother’s voice say, “Son, come and sit on my knee.” This I did only to be surprised and thrilled to see a beautiful flower or a sunset. I could not believe it, because from underneath it looked so messy. Then Mother would say to me, “My son, from underneath it did look messy and jumbled, but you did not realize that there was a pre-drawn plan on the top. It was a design. I was only following it. Now look at it from my side and you will see what I was doing.”

Many times through the years I have looked up to my Heavenly Father and said, “Father, what are You doing?” He has answered, “I am embroidering your life.” I say, “But it looks like a mess to me. It seems so jumbled. The threads seem so dark. Why can’t they all be bright?” The Father seems to tell me, “‘My child, you go about your business of doing My business, and one day I will bring you to Heaven and put you on My knee and you will see the plan from My side.”

-Author Unknown

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Roadtrip


I went to see Miles Saturday. After I left he was moved out of ICU and was no longer having breathing issues. Hopefully he will be able to go home after tomorrow's MRI.

My original plan was to leave on Sunday morning for the training so I'd have plenty of time for the 9 hour drive to Pennsylvania. I was hoping Wes & Levi could come, but Levi was wheezing a bit and required a few breathing treatments over the last couple of days. He didn't need to be out. Adam, Abigail, and I left home Saturday night and drove from 8:30pm to 1:00am to avoid any possible travel problems from the weather. This morning we had a nice breakfast and attended a worship service before getting back on the road. The singing was absolutely beautiful and very uplifting.

We took a leisurely trip that included a stop at the mall, games at the arcade, and a trip to a Chinese buffet (Adam's suggestion, of course!). We got to the hotel around 8pm and were all pretty disappointed to learn that there is no swimming pool here. We decided to make the best of it and walked around and explored the hotel before settling into our room for the night.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Insignificant

Yesterday Levi had a check-up with the ENT. I was so pleased to learn that the ear infection we found out about on Sunday is already gone. There is some fluid, but no infection. We will be back next month for a follow up, and if the fluid is gone, she will do a hearing test (just a check-up, no concerns). The doctor said his throat looks good, so his reflux medicine is working. It was a short and positive visit.

Our ENT specializes in the ear, nose, and throat issues associated with Down syndrome. As odd as it may sound, one of my favorite parts of seeing this doctor is sitting in the waiting room. I love talking to the other families there. I am magnetized to other moms who feel the magic of that extra chromosome and am uplifted by our interactions. We fawn over each others' children and share our successes with each other. The bond of living lives enchanted by Down syndrome is quite powerful. We can nod & smile without having to explain the new depth brought to our lives by the ups and downs that come our way.

Knowing that the odds were high that we'd make new friends yesterday, I brought my camera. And boy, was I glad.
(Poor Levi is still dealing with an upper respiratory infection & had just woken up from his nap. I couldn't get him to smile for the camera.)

Grams came to stay with Adam yesterday while Levi & I were gone. He ran a fever all day. When I happily noticed that she washed some clothes for us while she was here, Adam said, "Grams solves all our problems because she is good."

He woke up happy and fever-free, but the fever came back this afternoon. I have been on the nurse's hotline a couple times since he's felt bad. We'll be bringing him to the pediatrician tomorrow if his fever has not subsided.

And while these things are important to me, and I feel like they are worth sharing, it is all insignificant right now. Our friends are sitting with their 19 month old in the ICU waiting for answers about his seizures that showed up for the first time yesterday morning.

Please join me in praying for Miles.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why Pay-by-Phone Systems Aren't for Busy Moms

If you have young children, learn from me, and don't pay your electric bill by phone in order to keep the payment from being late. You might have fussy children hanging on you right at the end of that phone call, which may cause you to have a difficult time hearing what buttons to push. You may, in fact, miss the part about completing the phone call and finalizing your payment. You may hear something about hanging up and mistakenly think that your phone call is over. You may then hang up and start tending to the children that were interrupting you and not notice that you weren't given a confirmation number. You may go on with your day thinking about how great pay-by-phone systems are. About a week later, you may wonder why all of your power suddenly shuts off at 10am. You may have to take your three-year-old to the bathroom by flashlight, make a few phone calls, and realize that you are the only one in the neighborhood without power. You may have to call that same number again, only to find that there is no record of that payment you thought you made a week ago. You then will have to do it all over again, this time with sick children that are much needier than when you made your first attempt to use the pay-by-phone system. You may have to call back three times just to get your account number punched in correctly and then have to re-enter other numbers multiple times (mainly because you are about to have a breakdown at this point). After all that, you may have to use another automated system to get the electric company to come turn your electricity back on. Then you might just sit down at your dinner table and cry while your children eat lunch.

A Few Other Things I Learned Today:
Don't put mail in a drawer you never use in order to get it out of sight before a house showing (you may need to use a pay-by-phone system to keep one of those bills from being paid late).

Laugh at your mistakes after you finish crying about them.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!





And introducing...Addy! I started doing some in-home child care last week. Isn't she a doll? Of course, right up there with emergency contact information is permission to take her pictures and post them! She has a great personality and fits right in here. During her nap today, I made this tutu out of ribbon and tulle I had in my craft stash. It's kind of fun having a little girl in the house!

My Kind of Saturday

This Saturday was my kind of Saturday. We played outside, went out for lunch, shopped, and then to my favorite new spot for frozen yogurt. I travel so often for work on Saturdays that a weekend with my family is extra special.

Sunday was great, too, except that Levi was sick, and last night, I was the only one in the house that didn't have a fever! Fevers are gone this morning...but none of my guys are feeling great today.







A little video clip of Adam for you...(He can now remember everything he needs to do when using the bathroom.)
video

I saw this the other day and cracked up.
(via Living Laughing and Loving Blog)

Friday, February 10, 2012

What I Hate About Holland

Emily Pearl Kingsley, an Emmy Award winning writer for the show Sesame Street, wrote an essay in 1987 about having a child with a disability. Her son happens to have Down syndrome. The poem is called "Welcome to Holland." It is posted on lots and lots of websites and blogs.

And I hate it. Absolutely hate it.

Emily Kingsley and her son (born in 1974) have done a lot of wonderful things to advocate for people with Down syndrome. (Her son has even co-authored a book). Everyone's perspective on life is different, and life for people with Down syndrome has changed dramatically since her son was born. She obviously is an amazing writer and has done amazing things in her life, much more that I will ever achieve. I am not knocking her as a person. I just do not like the poem "Welcome to Holland."

Here is the complete essay:
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Welcome to Holland
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel, Gondolas. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting. After several months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland!” “Holland?” you say. “What do you mean, Holland? I signed up for Italy. I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.” But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It’s just a different place. So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around. You begin to notice that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. And Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.” And the pain of that experience will never, ever, ever, go away. The loss of that dream is a very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.
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"For the rest of your life"
you'll wish for something else? The pain will "never, ever, ever, go away"? Really? That is just not me.

Yes, I grieved when I found out the news about this diagnosis. I grieved the unknown, and while there are still a lot of unknowns, that pain is far behind me. I will NOT spend the rest of my life wishing for something else.

There will be rough days ahead for sure, but they would be a whole lot rougher if I spent those days wishing for a different life...a different child. I just can't relate to that essay.

I do agree that raising children is like going on a trip. For our typical children, I think most of us can reasonably estimate what that road trip will be like. There may be traffic jams, detours, or new roads to take. Things won't go exactly as we imagine them, but with our typical kids, we do have a general idea of where we are going and have an estimated time of arrival. With Levi, it's like the car with the map inside is parked on the shoulder of the highway and we are splashing in a pond nearby. We know we are going in the right general direction but don't know when we are going to move forward. We don't know exactly how far we're going or where we'll end up, but, MAN, are we enjoying the ride!

Comfy?


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What We Did Today

Today we discovered a new favorite book and found a fun way for Adam to trace his letters.
(Thanks, Eli & Emma, for telling us about your favorite author!)

We played with a new friend.
We talked to ourselves in the mirror using funny faces.
We got the ball pits back out (yes, we have two of them now :)

And we played some more. The boys LOVE playing ball in the hallway. The phrase "bust a gut" comes to mind when Levi laughs during this game!
video

Although I can make myself look like a great mom on my blog, I will still go to bed wondering if I did enough, wishing I had prepared better meals, beating myself up about turning the TV on for Adam, and questioning if I did enough for Levi today. That doesn't even touch the "how I could have been a better wife" part of my brain.

So what did you do today? And what do you wish you had done? I'd love to hear. You'd be amazed how excited I get when comments are left here or on facebook!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Magic of Music


As many of you know, I work for a child care training company, Appelbaum Training Institute. At our seminars, we often encourage teachers to use music in their classrooms. The ATI facebook page even has a link today to a great article on the power music has on behavior.

Have you ever noticed that music affects us adults, too? Music really can change our moods. I remember the calm that surrounded me during my difficult pregnancy with Adam. I constantly listened to lullabies. Those soft, sweet songs about babies gave me such a sense of peace. Lately, I have been listening to those lullabies again. They calm me and make me feel peaceful even when our days are crazy. It has really made a difference in my attitude and helps me to stay positive. When those songs are playing, I am reminded to be grateful for my job as a mommy, instead of getting irritated at little things.

Use music this week to help yourself. Find a song to boost your energy, calm yourself, or give you the focus and inspiration you need. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"I Do Not Have Special Needs" Video

I presented to 597 child care providers yesterday in Philadelphia, and met a lot of fantastic people. One woman introduced herself on a break and told me about her 16 year old son with Down syndrome. She told me, "He does not have special needs. He has the same needs as everybody else." As you are about to see, those words really inspired me. Thank you, Bitty!

Please share this video and help me share my message with others.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Stronger

I haven't had to deal too much with unkind stares or rude comments about Levi's diagnosis, but some other mamas in bloggy-land are hurting now. My heart is heavy for them.


(via a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Letter to My Lost Love...Sleep


Dearest Sleep,

You know how much I love you. You have been there for me when I needed you in the past, but now you don't seem to care anymore. I wish I could move on... Just turn away and say I didn't need you. But I can't. You mean so much to me, and I just can't live without you.

Sometimes I can force myself to trudge through the day without you near me, but I still feel an emptiness when we're apart. I know they say "It is better to have slept and lost than to have never slept at all," but that isn't always enough to comfort me.

Please come back to me.

-April

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy Birthday to Wes!

Yesterday was my hubby's birthday. I got a birthday present, too. That morning he told Adam he was 38 year's old, which means I've been 37 all this time and was thinking I was 38! I'm younger than I thought I was!

We had a blast preparing for his special day. Adam wore his cape and mask to the grocery store, so he got lots of attention from passersby. He told everyone it was his Daddy's birthday, so people cracked up when they saw this balloon Adam was toting around.

An elderly couple wanted to talk with him while we picked out cake mixes. They asked how old his daddy was going to be, and Adam quickly replied, "Forty pounds."

We made homemade pizza for dinner.


And greeted the birthday boy at the door.


Adam was determined to have a Spiderman cake for his daddy, so we made a chocolate cake, used food coloring to turn some strawberry frosting the right shade of red, and I made a web with black icing. Top it off with a Spidee toy, and you've got a fun cake!