Linear Learning for Children with Down Syndrome
In segregated classrooms, students had to stay with what was hardest for them instead of having an array of opportunities that showed talent and abilities not considered in evaluations or IEPs.
This has been a standard that reduced opportunities and success for toddlers and students up to the age of 22.
Older siblings have circumvented some of the drawbacks of linear learning strategies.
My daughter loved having a juice box with lunch. She had a small table next to her brother's high chair. My son was fascinated by everything his older sister did, and I looked forward to the day he could use a straw. According to the list given to me in his early intervention center, it was a skill he would develop after 9 other skills in a list of 14. He was working on the second skill in the progression.
I glanced over while fixing his sister's plate and saw him reach down, take her juice box, and putting the straw in his mouth. He squeezed the box in his excitement and it was obvious juice came up the straw.
His eyes got wide and he swallowed the juice, sucking more from the tiny straw.
This happened so fast, I could not react. If I had been closer, I would have stopped him - mostly because his sister had a fierce love of her juice, but also because he would not be able to manage a straw for months.
Except that his Grand Theft Juice box, after weeks of carefully observed modeling, accidentally showed him what to do.
This was the kind of thing that happened in mainstream Mommy and Me classes, mainstream preschool, and mainstream kindergarten, and all the way through high school. Incidental learning, focus on topics and skills of interest to him that were not considered in evaluations and IEPs, and going along with mainstream curriculum that introduced him to a wide variety of subjects, with the expectations that all students in his classroom would have some level of proficiency.
My son refused to work on a wide balance beam at his early intervention center, and I was told due to balance and motor planning problems, they did not recommend working on that skill.
Waiting outside his sister's preschool with siblings of her classmates, he watched then walk along the top of the parking lot dividers - more narrow, and with rounded edges.
And within a few weeks, he was walking along those ledges like the asphalt was lava.
His speech was not clear so I did not realize he was saying 'the asphalt is lava' until I heard another sib chant, "The asphalt is lava."
I was told that two word sentences would happen much later. The parking lot balance beam practice made his speech more clear, too - like his therapeutic horseback riding.
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