Communicating Partners, Summer 1994 Newsletter

Letter from Barbara
     Finding ways to take turns is fun and easy once you get in the habit. This morning at breakfast my son, Mark, a five year old with Down syndrome, was pretending to read the back of the Cap'n Crunch box. I peeked around the box and said "Hi!" He poked his head out and said, "Hi!" back. The game had started. We made funny faces, and even growls and roars, back and forth with each other as he looked at me from one side of the box to the other.
     I've learned three helpful things about turntaking: first, watch what your child is doing and become part of it; second, keep the interaction going for awhile; and third, make it fun!
     Here's another game we've played with words. One day my son called me Barbara. This was the first time he had done that and it was a real surprise. I looked at him (just a little sternly) and said, "Don't call me Barbara. Call me mama." He repeated "mama," then said, "Barbara" again. Then I knew how to make a turntaking game of it. I changed my words a little and said, "Don't call me Barbara! Call me mother dear."
     Well, of course he repeated "mother dear," then said "Barbara" again. (This time with a big grin.) What a game! We went through sweet mama, pretty mommy, skinny mom, smart mama, and just about, everything else I could think of. He loved it! Even after we ended the game, he would sneak up and say, "Barbara," just to start it over again.
     We don't play this game much anymore and I miss it. But all the funny faces and silly sounds and word games have served a purpose for his development: our days are now one long conversation. We hope this newsletter will help you and your child become playful partners like Mark and I have become. - Barbara Mitchell

Barbara Mitchell is Contributing Editor and is a member of our parent program. Barbara shares a home with her husband and seven children. Look for her in each issue of Communicating Partners.

  Revised: February 22, 1998.