Tag Archives: Down syndrome

Swimming and Kids With Special Needs

Here’s a little ditty I learned from Noah’s (7 with Down syndrome)awesome former physical therapist (Oh how we miss Miss Lori).

Last year I mentioned to Miss Lori how fabulous Noah was in the swimming pool and she asked me if he could climb out on his own.  Ah hah, I thought, she’s wanting him to work on his upper body strength.

Wrong.

She was trying to clue me in on the most important thing we can teach our kids (special needs or not) in the swimming pool.

When it comes to swimming, being able to get out of a swimming pool is the number one most important thing our kids should know how to do.  And it’s not enough to teach them to go to the ladder and climb out.  If they wander into an unfamiliar swimming pool, they may not be able to find the steps or ladder, and they can only hold onto the side of the pool for so long.  Even if your child isn’t able to swim independently yet, you can teach him to pull himself out of the side of the pool.  He’ll need to grab the side rim with his hands, lift himself up, and then put his stomach on the ground and pull his knees out.  (If you can’t quite picture it, have an older child climb out of the pool at the side of the pool and watch how they maneuver.)

Every time you go to the pool this summer, practice this skill with your child.  Good upper body strength is required (I know this because  I can’t seem to pull myself out of the pool – I have to use the ladder).  Your child may need a little boost at first to pull himself all the way out, but try to withdraw your help little by little until he is doing it independently.  It could pay off it a big way.  And if nothing else, it really is a great upper-body strengthening activity.

 

Speaking of Swimming – Capturing Language Opportunities at the Swimming Pool

Well, it’s April, which means it’s officially summer (at least here in the Texas Hill Country, that is).  Here summer lasts, oh, about 7 months.  We don’t really know what spring or fall are.

So last week we found ourselves at the swimming pool.  Noah (7 – with Down syndrome) loves the water, and it seems to really open the door to speech to have him in the water.  This apraxia thing is a real booger.  The more he concentrates, the harder he tries, the more his speech falls apart, it seems.  So to have him engrossed in the water creates enough of a distraction that we often get good speech production.

In the water with Noah, I captured every speech opportunity I could, and I want to share some of that with you.

I have 3 Littles who are not swimming independently yet, so I lined them up on the side of the pool while the 3 Middles played in the water in the middle of the pool.

First I had the Littles kick with their feet in the water.  I gave each of them a turn to say “kick” whereupon they would commence to kicking and then “stop” when they would all stop.  A great thing about kids – they don’t demand perfect enunciation or pronunciation.  Noah just had to attempt to say kick or stop, and the others performed on cue.  Very powerful stuff for a little boy who is still deciding just how important speech is to him.

Then it was Noah’s turn to come into the pool.  He practiced signing and saying “I want in water.”  (I said most of those words along with him.)

Once we were in the water, he was happy to say “water” when I asked him what we were in.  He also said “go” to get me to move.  We worked on blowing bubbles in the water, which he loved so much, he was happy to practice saying “more bubbles.”  For this, I asked him, “Do you want more bubbles?”  He said “yes”, and I told him, “Then say more bubbles.” And on cue he said, “More bubbles.”

He gets mighty bold and likes to show off in the water, so I took advantage of this by having him call out to his siblings by name.

When he did something well, I cued him to say “Yay.”

Noah likes me to hold him close in the pool, so although I would push him to kick and paddle with a little distance between the two of us, when I was ready to pull him closer, I verbally prompted him to say, “Hold me.”

Then when it was time to get out and let another Little have a turn, I prompted Noah to say “out.”

When his turn came around again, Noah practiced phrases like “My turn” and “I want in.”

Best case scenario, Noah would be working with a speech therapist in the water.  Next best thing – that would be me.  :)

How about you?  Are you finding good opportunities for speech sessions in unusual settings?

 

 

Free Printable – Functional Sign Language for the Childcare Setting

Noah has been enjoying his time at the Child Watch program at the Y.   A few weeks ago, the director asked if I could come up with a few signs to share so that Noah would be understood when he signs.  I’ve come up with nine basic American Sign Language signs that are commonly used at home and in the childcare setting; Mommy, Daddy, water, thirsty, all done, more, potty, ball and hurt.

Functional Sign Language for the Childcare Setting

Download the free printable PDF here: Functional Sign Language for the Childcare Setting

For many children with Down syndrome, apraxia, and other speech delay, motivation can be a real problem.  There is nothing more frustrating to a child than attempting to communicate with someone who isn’t understanding them.  On the flip side, there is nothing more motivating to a child struggling with speech than to have the people around him understand and respond to his attempts to communicate.

Please share these signs with your child’s school, babysitter, daycare center, Sunday school class, grandparents, and anywhere else your child may be at risk for not being understood.

Thanks to http://www.babysignlanguage.com for allowing me to use their graphics.