Communicating Partners, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1994 Newsletter

Letter from Barbara
     Dear Parents,

     I want to tell you something my five-year old son with Down syndrome told me last week. I had been busy all morning while he played quietly alone. He was getting bored and finally said, "Mama, sit down and relax!" He had never said the word "relax" before and I was excited he had added a new word to his vocabulary.
     Then he told me, "Play with me real bad!" I asked him, "You want me to play with you real bad?" He answered, "Yeh, real bad!" So, of course, I stopped what I was doing and played with him.
     I'm happy my son has both the words and the initiative to ask me to play with him, because he usually likes to play with people more than alone.
     Now I want to tell you something else my son said recently. His preschool teacher came for a home visit and asked him to do some things that were too difficult for him to do. Children react in different ways when we test them and ask them to do what they can't do. My son responded by lying down on the floor and very innocently, honestly, and quietly said, "Go home." (I want to be fair to the teacher and say, during the last home visit they had a wonderful time playing, laughing, and talking together for over an hour.)
     I wonder how many children with delays would like to say, "Go home," or "Go away," when we test them and ask them to do things that are too difficult for their abilities?
     It's easy to think we're helping their development when we try to teach them skills and words other kids learn so quickly. But we should remember that the first thing they need to learn is to become social and communicative. We need to "sit down and relax" and play and talk with them in ways they can do, or we will soon lose their attention and interest, and not be able to teach them anything.

Sincerely, Barbara Mitchell

  Revised: March 11, 1998.