When I was teaching, my job brought me into contact with a young girl with Down Syndrome. I quickly became attached, and I was determined to make her experience at school a success. She captured my heart as well as the hearts of her classmates. After reviewing research and teaching techniques, I found a way to overcome the communication challenge, capitalize on her strengths, and remembered not to take life so seriously.
Overcoming the Communication Challenge
I encountered a communication challenge because my student’s speech was delayed, and it was hard for her to communicate. We began working with things that she could touch. I paired the item with a traditional sign language sign. For example, I would show her an orange and repeat the word orange in spoken English as well as American sign language. She would repeat the signed word and touch the orange. This process worked well. Over the course of several weeks, her vocabulary increased. Her parents were given assignments as well so that they could communicate more effectively with her.
Capitalizing on Strengths
Spending time with my student, I determined that her communication skills were enabling her to become successful in mathematics. Taking cues from our language lessons, I brought out bright colored visual aids to capture her attention and her imagination. Her smiles warmed my heart as we began counting in sign language. Addition came next, and her skills improved rapidly. It was imperative that we give her an opportunity to excel in every area.
Never Forget to Have Fun
As I spent time with her, I realized that with her sweet disposition and contagious smiles, fun must not be overlooked. She was not very coordinated, but running with abandon during physical education class time filled her with joy. It was my pleasure to jog with her and watch as she laughed at me. Learning to play Four Square and bounce and catch a ball was a challenge that she would master in a short amount of time. It quickly became her favorite game as well as mine.
While having fun and teaching her to write, I used a table and several cans of shaving cream. Covering the table with shaving cream, she was able to use her hand to write the letters in the foam. It was a bit messy, but worth the effort when she successfully was able to write her name as well as the vocabulary words.