Saturday, July 20, 2013

Ds Parenting 101 and Handwriting Without Tears Workshops

This morning I attended two excellent workshops.

The first one was Ds Parenting 101: The Straight Scoop with Tools and Rules by Natalie Hale. It was based on her new book, "Down Syndrome Parenting 101: Must-Have Advice for Making Your Life Easier". Everything she covered, particularly non-compliance, was applicable to John Michael and understanding oppositional behaviors. Yes, my sweet, angelic "happy all the time" child has quite a few stubborn traits and behaviors that are challenging us. I know, hard to believe LOL, since most of what I post has a positive spin on Ds.

John Michael is a very sweet, smart lovable boy, but he can be very non-compliant at the simplest requests. He knows the rules... Each morning he has to go potty, eat breakfast and get dressed for school. Some mornings he comes in our room at 6:15 for some cuddle time before our day begins. He always tells me, "Mommy, I love you so much!" I cherish these tender moments, but as soon as it's time to get up, he practically runs away from me to avoid his morning routine. Sometimes he does it all willingly and other times I have to assist every step of the way. We've worked with a behavior therapist, established a rewards system and still, it doesn't always work.

I think this new book will be great for giving practical examples of how to motivate your child. I like what the author said... You have to use humor and be permissive with their feelings, acknowledging when he doesn't want to do something and then give him a choice of two things he can do. He feels in control and you still win. I love her light-hearted approach yet she's full of wisdom from parenting a child, now a man, with Ds, ADD and oppositional behavior disorder. Looking forward to it!

The second workshop was called Scribble, Color, Draw: Key Readiness Skills Essential for Handwriting Success presented by Diane Eldridge, RN, COTA.

I loved this class! It was completely hands on and she taught us how to help our kids gain more strength for handwriting, how to write their letters in the most logical order and creating letters from simple wooden shapes, starting with the big line at the top. We talked about eye-hand coordination for coloring, writing and eventually drawing a figure of themselves. She showed an example of a boy drawing a stick figure of himself with just a head and sticks for legs. This is totally how John Michael creates a person, which is about a 3 yr old level. After doing a fun exercise on the floor by creating a "Mat Man" from the wooden shapes and setting it to song, the boy was able to draw a head, body, arms, legs, face and a belly button. I'm excited to try this with John Michael and Luke and see a before and after.

She also recommends breaking crayons in half so they have to hold it with a proper grasp and squeezing and pinching Play Doh for hand strength. She set everything to song and made it fun and light. I think that's the "missing link", so will definitely be adding song to our learning and coloring sessions. Finally, I learned that the best way for kids to write letters is not by tracing, but by imitating. So, I would write capital letters first or a word and he imitates on the line below using simple shapes of "Big line, Little line, Big curve and Little curve". Very simple, and very easy to learn.

That's all for now. I haven't figured out how to post pics from my iPad, but will as soon as I can.


  1. william's OT in prek used mat man and she gave us one, it would be very simple to make one and he is lots of fun:).
    We used to also break the crayons, that always seemed to help with W's grip when he was younger.
    Sounds like a great break out session to attend.
    I am going to look for the book on behaviors to share with teachers and educators this year. I tell them all the time that if its not "his idea" you can basically forget it and giving choices is the best way to avoid a total shut down, sometimes I think they dismiss me as a parent giving in to their child which is totally opposite of what Im doing....just trying to set him up for success. Enjoy the conference and please keep sharing

  2. So glad to see you blogging again!! We absolutely LOVE HWT!

  3. Can I just say how THRILLED I am to see you posting again!!! You were one of the first blogs I came across after Russell was born, and one of my favorites for years! I have missed your little blog :)

  4. I've also heard using short thin dry erase magnet (just to get the right ones) markers from target and write on regular paper, use a stylus and I LOVE also from the convention TV teacher. The strokes shapes ' scenes dvd had by not always eager to write son become an artist of 10 plus pages with dots hes never done before.

    Guided drawing with IDEAS or guided hand (if allowed!) start up shapes and adding suggestions is GREAT for our memory and apraxia (move thru movement)

    Use play doh theraputty and encourage using a cheap stylus on the iPad (it will get lost!)