Monday, May 28, 2007


I think I have created a computer junkie. 8 years old, and this kid is a WHIZ on the computer!! I have to say, I am tickled and excited. I think that knowing her way around a computer will be so beneficial for her as she grows. Right now, it is and LOTS of SpongeBob videos, but she has a huge list of favorites and spends a fair bit of time online after homework is done each day. I don't mind right now, because she may think she is playing, but she is really learning SO much.

When Ciarra was a baby, we chose not to do therapies for the most part. Never had ST or OT or any of those until the summer before she went to Kindergarten. What she DID have is "Concept Development Therapy". I will be grateful to my dying day that she had it. The lady who taught it came to our home, she was a Developmental Specialist, her name was Brenda. She had created this program that used a child's favorite characters to get them excited about learning. For Ciarra, that was BARNEY the dinosaur. She would do anything for Barney. Brenda used a touch screen that went right over the monitor. Eventually, we bought one to keep at our house. What a fanntastic product! Under $200, and it was easily the best investment we ever made for her education-wise. Brenda wrote programs that would have Barney celebrate with Ciarra whenever she got something right. I remember in the early days it was colors, shapes, animals, etc. Three or so shapes would come onscreen, and the program would ask "can you find _____?" Square, YAY, you found square, and Barney would come dancing out blowing kisses or stars or his theme music would play. Ciarra's name would explode in stars onscreen, and she KNEW she got it right. She wanted to be right everytime, and she was very successful with it.

As she grew, the programs got harder and harder. By 2, she knew all of her letters. By 3, she was beginning to sight read. Cause and effect, shapes, colors, animal names and sounds, letters, words, she was learning SO much. And she was learning that the computer was a wealth of information.

Once we had our own touchscreen, she could play games like those made with Reader Rabbit and Clifford. The "Clifford Phonics"game was especially helpful, teaching word families. Then we bought Clifford Learning Activities and then one called Clifford's Musical Memory Game. Reading became a strength for Ciarra, and she went into Kindergarten very ready to read, in fact reading many sight words already. That first week of school, I was called to come in and see something. Turned out to be my 5 year old daughter reading a book from cover to cover that she and her awesome new Special Education teacher Mrs. Z had created together. It was called "I See" and it was about our family. I had given Mrs. Z a copy of the Woodbine House book "Teaching Reading to Children With Down syndrome" and she used it in the early days "like a Bible". Whatever she was using, it worked! Ciarra was awakened, excited, in love with reading. Those early days were full of hope, I was still having to convince people that kids with DS could really read, one of the myths of DS is that they usually don't. At that time, I, myself had a lot to learn yet about DS. The world around me had far more to learn. Most people with DS will learn to read, like all people, there will be a spectrum of ability.

In First Grade, Ciarra's reading took off even more. This video was shot right after first grade ended. She had just had surgery, so her speech is very nasally and not quite understandable. But her reading...I was so proud!

View this montage created at One True Media
Conversations with Ciarra

Ciarra is in 2nd grade right now, and reading at grade level. I am thrilled with her reading, and we work everyday on reading for comprehension, taking what is written in the story and understanding it. She is making so much progress! Whereas she used to read and work so hard deciphering the words themselves that she would lose the train of thought and not really understand the story, now she is reading more easily and being able to take more from the stories. Watching her progression has been amazing, inspiring, and awesome! She is a hard worker, never a quitter, and truly enjoys words and language and the flow of words. Here she is, reading her first ever chapter book! The school librarian had suggested it. I will share the story of her seeing Ciarra read it for the first time soon. Needless to say, she was touched, awed, and thrilled. She belives in Ciarra, and they both LOVE books. Here she is, reading "Starlight":

View this montage created at One True Media
Chapter Books-Age 8

Spelling has been another strong point for her this year. Currently, she is doing compound words such as Ballgame Inside Baseball Sailboat Fireman...she is doing very well with them.

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