Archive for March, 2011

What are the signs to look for if I feel my child has learning difficulties?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

As parents we often put pressure on ourselves, comparing our children with children in their peer group, worrying when our children do not appear to be achieving milestones. Quite often we worry needlessly; all children are different, our children will achieve the age appropriate milestones in their own time, and we just need to be patient.

Some developmental disabilities are apparent from birth, such as Down syndrome or are diagnosed shortly after. But sometimes it is not so apparent and all we have is our inner voice telling us something is not quite right.

Some things to look out for:

  • Lack of communication, eye contact
  • Difficulties feeding
  • Little interest in social interaction
  • Behavioural challenges

At this point it can be useful to keep a diary, building up a picture of your child and your concerns. These can help to establish which support will best help with achieving developmental progress.

Choosing an early years setting

Friday, March 25th, 2011

You will be given lots of information and advice about different settings and it can seem overwhelming but choosing the right one for your child is a very personal decision. There are a lot of factors to take into account before you make that decision, and considering your answers to the following questions may help:

  • are the staff friendly and welcoming when you arrive?
  • how do they treat your child? Do you feel they have a positive attititude towards inclusion? 
  • are the staff experienced in working with children with special needs? Do they have relevant training?
  • do you feel they are listening to you when you discuss the needs of your child?
  • when they talk about the setting, have they made suggestions about how they will include your child? What is their settling in process?
  • will your child be given the choice and opportunity to participate in all the activities, with the appropriate support?
  • are they willing to liaise with medical and educational professionals, incorporating their advice into the planned activities?
  • how do they keep you informed of your child’s progress and activities whilst at the setting?
  • will they allocate a 1:1 for your child who has experience working with children with special needs?
  • how many children attend the setting and what is the adult/child ratio?
  • Finally, how did your child react to the setting and staff?

Hand movement

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

To help your child to become aware of their hands and encourage them to move their hands, use wrist rattles or sew bells (securely attached) onto the back of gloves or mittens.

Turn-taking games

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Practice turn-taking by rolling a ball or a car between you. You may initially need another adult to support your child and help them roll the ball back to you. First make eye contact with your child, by using their name, and holding the ball at eye level, then roll the ball to them. Give them time and support to respond in turn. As they become more proficient, introduce ‘ready, steady, go’ or 1, 2, 3, building on their anticipation and attention. Keep it fun!

Waving Game

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Place some of your child’s favourite toys, e.g. finger puppets, animals, into a bag. Whilst sitting opposite your child, take the toys out one at a time. Say ‘Hello, cow’, or ‘Hello, doll’. Place the toy behind your back out of your child’s sight and say ‘Bye, bye cow’ and wave. Encourage your child to wave bye. Then let your child take a turn removing a toy out of the bag, say ‘Hello’. Help your child put the toy back in the bag, and say and wave ‘Bye, bye’. Keep it fun!

‘Welcome to Holland’ a quote from Diane Cutcher, addressing the USA National Down’s Syndrome Congress, as quoted in the film “Kids like These”

Monday, March 7th, 2011

When you are going to have a baby, it is like you are planning a vacation in Italy, you are all excited – you get a whole bunch of guide-books and you learn a few phrases of Italian so you can get around. When it comes time, you pack your bags and head for the airport for Italy. Only when you land and the stewardess says “Welcome to Holland” you look at one another in disbelief and shock and say “Holland? What are talking about? I booked for Italy!”
Then they explain that there has been a change of plan and you have landed in Holland, where you have to stay. “But I don’t know anything about Holland! I don’t want to stay!” But you do – you go out and buy some new guide-books. You learn some new phrases, and you meet people you never knew existed. The important thing is that you are not in a filthy, plague-infested slum full of pestilence and famine. You are simply in a different place than you planned. It is slower-paced than Italy and less flashy than Italy, but after you have been there a while and you have a chance to catch your breath, you begin to discover that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, Holland even has Rembrandts!
Of course, everyone else youknow is busy coming and going to Italy. They are all bragging about what a great time they had there, and for the rest of your life you will say “Yes, that’s where I was going. That’s what I planned!” The pain of that will never, ever go away. You have to accept the pain because the loss of that dream, the loss of the plan, is a very, very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you did not get to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.”