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May, 2012

Reaching High

2012-05-15
By: Glen Hoos, Director of Marketing and Development

Taylir is just like any other 10-year-old girl, who loves swimming, camping and dancing. Unafraid of any challenge, she faces life with determination and an infectious sense of humour - characteristics that have served her well in the DSRF’s Success Builders reading program.

“As the oldest of four, we’ve always treated Taylir for who she is, and not her diagnosis,” says Taylir’s mom, Jodie. The family does not place limits on what Taylir can do, and this gives her the confidence she needs to build her foundational communication skills.

In the reading program, whether she’s playing word matching games, reading full storybooks, or swatting word-emblazoned lily pads with gusto, Taylir’s eagerness to learn always shines through - as does her desire to be heard and understood. Like many kids with Down syndrome, Taylir has struggled with reading, articulation and vocabulary. As her thoughts and feelings outpaced her ability to express herself, frustration set in.

Since Taylir began Success Builders, which capitalizes on her visual learning strengths to teach her sight words, Jodie has seen her daughter’s reading and communication skills improve dramatically. “She’s much more confident now, and getting a lot more fluent when reading,” she says. “It’s great when she can just pick up a book and start reading and understanding it.” As she works on her reading, Taylir is simultaneously growing in her communication abilities.

Taylir’s tremendous progress is an encouragement to her teachers, too. “Taylir is an extremely fun student to work with,” says DSRF reading teacher Eleanor Stewart. “She always laughs and has a positive attitude. When she comes to class, she’s attentive and tries her best at all the activities.”

Jodie enthusiastically endorses the DSRF reading program to other parents of children with Down syndrome, noting in particular how the teaching methods are customized to the unique strengths and needs of each child. “We can target Taylir’s specific areas that need help, and we’ve been taught strategies that we can bring into the school setting” for consistent reinforcement. As Taylir, her parents, her school teachers and DSRF’s teaching staff work together towards a common goal, Taylir is reaching new heights.

Capital ‘P’

2012-05-04
By: Christie Hoos, Parent


I remember the moment you were born. It was so quiet – not a cry, not a gurgle, nothing… Your Dad tells me that it was only about 30 seconds before you started crying, but I had already started freaking out, “Is she okay?! Is she okay?! What’s wrong?” That little squall was one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard.

When they held you up for me to see I couldn’t believe how adorable you were. I fell even more in love with you. You looked like a little baby burrito and you had the sweetest little face (still do).

We spent the next 4 weeks sitting on uncomfortable stools while peering into the baby aquarium (aka: incubator), then holding you gingerly so as not to jar all the tubes and needles, taking turns driving to the hospital in the middle of the night to try to get you to eat, and finally bringing you home where you belonged. That whole time, while I was scarfing down cafeteria food and covertly skimming through your file, I was researching. While I shadowed the nurses and learned about everything in the special care nursery, I was researching. While I was playing milk cow and preparing tube feedings – still researching.

We were given a stack of books, brochures and web page print outs like you wouldn’t believe. And to be honest, they were helpful. They prepared us for the leukemia scare, the tests and medical procedures, explaining Down Syndrome to your sisters and a thousand other things. But they were filled with frightening statistics and scary possibilities.

You were already so precious to us, and the thought of you facing all those difficulties broke my heart. I wish I had known then what wonderful things lay ahead. I wish they had told me that.

I wish they had told me that you would love with abandon. That one of our biggest problems would be trying to get you to stop kissing EVERYONE. That you would melt the stoniest heart with your huge grin. That we would make friends everywhere we went, because you’re just that cute and charming.

I wish they had told me that you would make us laugh everyday with all the crazy things you do. That you would pray every single night for God to bless your “chocolate face”. That you would perform beside the TV whenever we watch “So You Think You Can Dance” – ballet, the samba, hip hop… you name it. That you would end each dance, song and occasional mealtime prayer with “Ta Da!”

I wish that they could have told me, along with all those intimidating statistics that there was a 100% chance of fun. That despite all the headaches and heartaches along the way, you would fill our life with pride and laughter and joy. I think this song from MY childhood says it best:

You are a promise.
You are a possibility.
You are a promise, with a Capital ‘P’.
You are a great, big bundle of POTENTIALITY!

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