NACD Testimonies
Journal of the National Academy for Child Development, 1997 Volume 10, No. 14.   Reprinted with permission from the Journal of the National Academy for Child Development
Copyright © 1996-97 NACD. All rights reserved.

Cindy Cindy
Cindy Cherie Wade was born May 22, 1976, in Salt Lake City. When the doctors told us that Cindy was born with Down Syndrome, they described a very bleak future and we found the first months of her life to be very discouraging. Not knowing where to turn we searched for help from individuals and organizations, but found little that gave us much encouragement. It was only when we learned about Robert Doman, Jr., that we found the help which would make a tremendous difference in Cindy's life. The National Academy for Child Development had not been formed as yet, but Robert Doman was working at the clinic called "Help for Brain Injured Children" in California.

We traveled to California to see Mr. Doman and received Cindy's first evaluation and program. By that time Cindy was eleven months old and could not make any movement on the floor. We patterned her for one week and put her on a slide to see if we could get her to move forward on her own. One morning to our astonishment, she pulled herself forward on the floor. In just a short time she was crawling all over our house. Then, she was creeping, and at 23 months she began to walk. These were happy days at the Wade Home!

We began to notice many wonderful and exciting differences in Cindy. Most of the dramatic changes became evident after about six months into the program. At age 2 we started to teach her to read. This seemed like a crazy idea, after all she was supposed to be mentally retarded. However, we persisted and as she neared her third birthday she began to identify and read the words. We were ecstatic! When she was four years old, the local newspaper wrote a special article on her reading and other abilities. When she turned five, one of the television stations featured her on a program. It was exciting to see how well she was doing.

One of the big hurdles in her life came when she started kindergarten. The school principal felt that she should go into a special education class, but when he actually observed her and saw that she could read about 500 words, identify all her colors and numbers, plus many other skills, he decided to give her a try in regular kindergarten. By the time she was ready for third grade the principal no longer questioned her placement in regular classes. He and the teacher were thrilled with her progress.

When Cindy was seven years old she read for a class of teachers in a graduate education class. They were amazed at the speed of her reading and spelling ability, along with her grasp of elementary math concepts. It was a real eye opener for all of them as they observed her potential. Many of those teachers expressed to us how observing Cindy changed their ideas of teaching.

Following third grade we moved to Hawaii. Once again we had to deal with Cindy's placement in school. The principal was willing to give her a try in regular classes, and he too, was excited to see how well she functioned both academically and socially.

Each year Cindy continued to progress successfully in the regular classroom. When she reached junior high school age we wondered how successful this experience would be. We found that if the teacher was willing to help and to work closely with us, it was a good experience. On the other hand, if the teacher would not assist in the work and communicate with us, it did not work very well. With close cooperation between school and family and with special help at home, Cindy maintained a 3.0 to 3.5 GPA throughout her junior high and high school schooling in Hawaii. Now in her senior year in high school, she is still in regular classes. However, she is tutored at home for academic subjects as was the case during the tenth and eleventh grade. We have not put her in some of the more academic classes because of her auditory processing. It is difficult for her to follow the teacher during lectures. She has taken classes like choir, ceramics, dance, physical education, art, drama, and seminary. Cindy has learned many excellent skills outside the classroom, also. She does very well on the piano and flute. She reads music and has a great sense of tone, rhythm and feeling for music. Cindy also takes dance lessons. Last year she danced at a farewell program for our family in the community. She danced with her older sister and received a standing ovation for her outstanding performance.

Cindy learned to swim at about age 5 and has been an excellent swimmer ever since. She has won swimming ribbons in competitions in our community. She has learned to ride a bicycle, do flips on the trampoline, and roller skate and ice skate very well. Cindy is amazing on the computer. She types all of her own papers, makes up materials for printing, records her journal, and spends hours on it in creative activities.

Academically, Cindy continues to surprise us. She manages to learn what she is being taught. Sometimes, of course, it takes much longer to input the information, but she will eventually internalize it. We remember when she was in her world history class in ninth grade, and was assigned to learn the countries of the world. We thought this might be extremely difficult, but she passed the final test on the countries of the world with an "A." She has been very interested in science, geography, and Spanish.

When Cindy began school, she could not speak with clear sentences. This was one of the reasons the principal wondered if she should go in the special education class. However, today her speech is very clear and understandable. As a family, we are proud of her accomplishments. She continues to surprise us. She watches television shows such as "Saved by the Bell," and she knows every actor and actress by name. She quotes facts and figures about them which she has read in teen magazines. She loves to see movies such as "Newsies," and she learns to play on the flute and the piano the music from the show. Her favorite pastime is to pretend being on stage. She would make a great actress! In fact, this is one of her goals.

Cindy has been on Robert Doman's program since she was eleven months old. We are convinced that most of her progress is a result of our applying the principles and procedures provided to us by Robert Doman, Jr., and the National Academy for Child Development organization. Cindy lives a very different life today than the life the doctors outlined for us and promised when she was born. We, her parents, recommend that all parents try this program. It works!

My firstborn, Daniel, was born with a chromosomal abnormality known as Down Syndrome. The medical term for Daniel's condition is Trisomy 21. This means that he has three #21 chromosomes instead of two. This extra chromosome blocked proper nutrition to all the cells in his body before and after birth, resulting in a very weak and poorly developed baby.

Daniel was diagnosed with Down Syndrome shortly after his birth. His stay in the hospital was filled with negative outlooks, from professionals, regarding his future development. It was beyond us that anyone could know, without a doubt, what a tiny baby's future could hold. That's when my husband, Ken, and I decided to search for more answers. But where we could we go to gain the expertise we needed to help Daniel? This was a burning question in our minds and hearts, and one to which we would not get an answer for a few months.

We welcomed Daniel home with much excitement and joy. Yet, underlying this festive atmosphere, were so many questions and fears of the unknown. Those fears were there simply because no professional seemed to know what to do to help improve Daniel's condition, just simply treating the symptoms caused by his condition. In our search for knowledge, we discovered that there was little help available for our son. And, what I mean by little, is one hour a week of physical therapy. Even we, as new parents, knew that this would not be enough to help improve Daniel's poor muscle tone and his weakened respiratory system. He was barely thriving, even though I had successfully been able to breast feed him.

Before we learned of Robert J. Doman, Jr., Founder of the National Academy for Child Development (NACD), we had been working on a home program with Daniel. In June of 1981, we attended a seminar, entitled "Miracles of Child Development" given by Robert J. Doman, Jr. The seminar gave us a wealth of information on child development. This seminar added to our understanding of what we had already learned in working with Daniel on his current home program. My husband had only agreed to attend this seminar out of curiosity. He truly felt that we would continue to utilize Daniel's current home program. But, when it came to his son, he was open to any possibilities of helping him, as was I. That conviction is what helped us to decide to have Daniel evaluated by Mr. Doman. Mr. Doman's evaluation of Daniel (who was almost 9 months old) was extremely thorough. Daniel WAS crawling on his tummy, but in a very poor fashion. He initiated no cross pattern movement, even though we were cross patterning him at home. He was very alert, but his health was poor. His appearance alone, projected his poor health.

As soon as Daniel's evaluation was completed, Mr. Doman wrote Daniel's new home program. He explained, in great detail, each activity on Daniel's program. As we listened, both of us became more confident and excited about our roles, as parents, in working with our tiny son. What became apparent to us is that, armed with the know how, we would be Daniel's best therapists and teachers. We could give him that one-on-one he so desperately needed.

The MAJOR difference between this NACD program and Daniel's previous program was how SPECIFIC it was for Daniel's needs. He wasn't just part of a group of children with Down Syndrome, doing all the same therapies. This program treated him as an individual, and, therefore, would be more beneficial. To cite an example of the specificity of Daniel's NACD program, one of the activities was to cover his mouth 30 times a day and mask him 30 times a day (this was a deep breathing exercise). Daniel was a mouth breather and had a tongue thrust. His vital capacity was low, and that did not help his energy level. With more energy, we knew he would be able to accomplish more. I remember both of us being delighted that we could do something to help these problems. Another activity on his NACD program was a tactile sequence. Daniel's tactility was very low. We learned that, unless he could feel properly, mobility, manual competence and muscle development would not improve greatly. It all made so much sense to us. Nowhere else had we ever gotten the impression that we, as parents, could comprehend what was necessary to help our child. Our experience was to the contrary. What a refreshing change!

As we shook Mr. Doman's hand and thanked him for his time, how much more hopeful we felt about Daniel's future. What a relief to know that we could help him in very specific ways. This was REAL HOPE! As we walked to our car, I remember my husband, Ken, saying, "That's it! This NACD program is for Daniel and us." No longer was there skepticism in his words. We drove home, anxious to begin this new program. We knew now that Daniel's potential was as unlimited as that of any child's. We also knew that this new journey, we were about to embark on, would take lots of work, but it would make a real difference in Daniel's life. We were MOTIVATED!

That was a very long time ago. Daniel is now 14 and a half years old. He has accomplished so much since his first NACD evaluation. I will attempt to cover as many of these accomplishments as possible. The best way I know to do this is to go through each area of development.

Mobility: Daniel's muscle tone improved so much that he was able to accomplish an excellent cross pattern crawl (on tummy), cross pattern creep (on hands and knees) and his walk and gait are good. He can hop on one foot, skip and jump. Muscle balance has continued to improve and the awkwardness he used to have is gone. He can even run up a flight of stairs without holding onto the railing. Quite an accomplishment! He learned how to ride a two wheeler, and even conquered riding up and down hills. He practices sprinting everyday. He gets faster all the time, and even competes in a track meet in the Spring with his peers. He plays soccer, swims well and has a great love of dancing. Because of all the work he has done on his home program, his accomplishments are many. He keeps up very well with his peers, and sometimes, outshines them.

Language: Daniel 's comprehension and use of new vocabulary continues to improve. He has quite an appropriate sense of humor. His ability to converse keeps getting better. It took him awhile to start talking, and the first words he used in his language were the words he had learned to read on his NACD program. He went to a speech therapist once and accomplished next to nothing. The lip, tongue and mouth exercises that he worked on at home enhanced his speech far more. Daniel has been on the Speech Team at school for two years in a row. He did well last year, memorizing and distinctly saying his speech. There was a marked improvement this year in his delivery of his speech, and it yielded him a BLUE RIBBON.

Manual Competence: Daniel's fine motor development and strength in his hands are very good. He writes well in cursive. He can zip, button, snap, buckle and tie his shoes. All of which give him even more independence. He swings on the overhead ladder (monkey bars, as some people refer to them) from rung to rung, with great ease. Utilizing the overhead ladder is an activity on his NACD program. He now weighs 110 pounds and is very accomplished in this activity. Presently, he is learning to type on the computer keyboard. Manipulation of his fingers is still improving.

Visual Competence: As a 9 month old, when he first started program, both of Daniel's eyes were badly crossed. This has been corrected to a great extent by use of various exercises on his NACD program. His eye-hand coordination continue to improve, making playing Nintendo, catching and batting much more fun for him. He is an excellent reader and is still moving forward in his reading abilities. His visual short term memory is above average and his visual long term memory is excellent.

Tactile Competence: All the problems he had in this area, as a baby, have since disappeared. He feels properly and all areas of his development have benefitted.

Auditory Competence: His ability to understand conversations is good. Daniel's auditory short term memory is average and his auditory long term memory continues to improve.

Behavior: A normal environment is what Daniel has always been a part of at school and at home. His life has been filled with lots of positive. Always, he has been disciplined, when necessary. We never let him get by with inappropriate behaviors, because we knew that someday he would have to be out there in the world with his peers, and we wanted him to be accepted. He is still learning in this social area of development. Appropriate behavior was always emphasized on his NACD program and guidance given to us when necessary.

Health: For 8 years, Daniel was on a metabolic treatment known as the "U" Series, dispensed by Dr. Henry Turkel. NACD informed us of this medical approach, and we decided to pursue it. Daniel was fortunate not to have heart problems, but his inefficient respiratory system caused enough problems for him. At age 2 and a half years, Daniel was hospitalized with severe croup, which resulted in a tracheostomy. His NACD program helped him bounce back much more quickly. His respiratory system is much more efficient now and he has minimal problems with colds these days. He is very healthy now.

Academiclly: He is in a normal sixth grade classroom, and working very hard at keeping up. School is more for social reasons. His NACD program is what keeps him climbing that academic ladder. His last evaluation was in December 1994 and his academic test scores were as follows: Math 6 grade 3 mo., Word Recognition 8 grade 4 mo., and Comprehension 10 grade 2 mo.

Daniel's younger bother, Ryan, has also benefitted from Daniel's program, and is reading and doing math significantly above grade level. He looks up to his hard working, big brother. Most of Daniel 's major developments have been accomplished. We are in the process of fine tuning. His NACD program has done so much for his development, his life, and continues to do so. The successes are somewhat smaller these days, but I know that the end result will be a young man who has achieved his potential. He will contribute to society. He will succeed.

Scott Scott, A Father's Story
More than ten years have gone by since my son was born. He came into our lives loved and wanted from the very start. In fact, this is true of all my children. I love my children unconditionally. Which doesn't mean I like all the decisions they make, but right or wrong, I'll stand by them. There was no instruction book with these children, no map to follow. The course of action was to give our children every opportunity that we could to succeed in their lives. This success is measured only by the individual and who is to say what success may be to another perhaps it is when one excels beyond his or her own expectations.

Scott was our fourth child. Most of this letter pertains to him. But it's important that it be known that Scott is part of a whole family and what affects him has affected all of us.

When Scott was born, the doctor came to us with concern on his face. He began by telling us that Scott had two fingers that had grown together. I looked up at him and asked what else was wrong. Somehow, down inside my heart, I already knew the answer. Then the doctor told us that he suspected Down Syndrome. It only confirmed what I already knew. My wife and I cried I guess from the long hours of being up some for ourselves, and a lot for Scott because we didn't really know what we could do for Scott. Most of the doctors have very few ideas, and the ones they have are mostly negative, at least to us.

Of all our children, Scott was the only one that I was able to be there for. My wife had all four of our children by Caesarian Section due to complications. It was not until Scott was born that they would let fathers in to see this kind of birth. And then even at that, they brought me in just in time to see Scott brought into the world. As I saw this child, my heart went out to him, and a bond was begun. It didn't matter to me in what condition he came to us. I would do all I could to help Scott and my family succeed.

When Scott was born, we were at first at a loss as to what we could do to help him. But when the concern began to wear off, we realized we had been given the answer even before Scott was born. We had been told about an organization which had a therapy program for handicapped children. We had hoped this program would be of benefit to our daughter who was having some learning problems. My mother-in-law had told my wife about how she had help with their therapy on a child who had been in a drowning accident and had sustained brain damage because of it.

We decided to get Scott involved in this therapy as soon as possible so we set up an appointment. Because of a blood thickening problem, Scott was sent from Cedar City, Utah, to Primary Children's Medical Center, in Salt Lake City, Utah. We were in Salt Lake City for about 5 days, where they were able to treat his condition successfully. They were also able to confirm that he had Down Syndrome. About 2 weeks after Scott was born, we went to our first appointment with NACD and we began his program of therapy. So as you can see, Scott got off to a very early start.

When you consider the cost of helping Scott, you understand that at times I became very skeptical of the therapy and was concerned of its real worth. But having no other alternatives, we continued with the program. Now ten years later, I can, without hesitation, fully recommend to you and anyone with needy children, this organization, the National Academy for Child Development (NACD).

As Scott has grown and we have enhanced the therapy, I've watched Scott's development.

When Scott was born, there were other Down's children born nearly at the same time, in our area. Therefore, I was able to compare Scott's development to theirs. It's amazing to see the difference. Where Scott has had this intense therapy, he has excelled far above all of the others. We had given the program information to these others but they were unwilling or unable to use it. Scott is in the upper third of his class and has been since Kindergarten. His spelling has been almost 100% since he began spelling. He can read an understand what he reads. He is very able to reason out problems in his mind. He averages A's and B's in all academics. He especially likes science. Scott is in good physical condition. He does not have many of the mannerisms that Down's children seem to have. His speech is not as good as it could be. But this is due to an abnormal amount of ear infections which impaired Scott's hearing. Even with this draw-back, Scott has still excelled by virtue of the program. Virtually every time Bob Doman instructed us to use certain therapy and told us Scott would improve he did.

The National Academy for Child Development treats every child individually and helps to create programming for their individual needs. Bob Doman has a great insight through his experience to see the needs of the child. He is expending his life to teach this. He has a real concern for the children. The program works. It fills all needs of the child mental, physical, and in some ways spiritual after all, anything that proves to be good is of God.

And, now, as a father, I can help my son. The most important things any parent can do is to be able to help their children. To a father, this is vital, an in- born need to provide and care for his family. Thanks to NACD I can.

Source: Revised: May 4, 2003.