Monday, September 19, 2011

What My Soon-To-Be 4 Year Old With Down Syndrome Is Doing And Learning

At Matthew's first IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting last year, I prepared a Developmental Achievement Chart (DAC) and shared it with all involved in the meeting. I try to update it quarterly. It lists what Matthew can do and what he is learning to do. It's very encouraging and exciting to see his progress when I update it.

His 2nd IEP meeting is on September 23 and I think I am ready.

So, how is Matthew doing these days? I'll share a few highlights.

Communication Skills
Matthew can:
- sight read 224 words with comprehension.
- understand more words than he can read.
- understand and independently use size concepts, descriptive concepts, and spatial concepts during structured language activities and sometimes in unstructured settings. Last week, he and Bill were racing a seadoo on the floor. Matthew spontaneously said, "The seadoo is fast!" Sometimes Matthew will give me a hug and say, "Big hug!" We saw a truck drive past when we were out on a wagon ride one day and he said, "A black truck!"
- articulate age-expected sounds in the initial and final positions of many words.
- answer "yes" or "no" questions appropriately instead of just repeating the last word he hears. Today, I asked him if he wanted ice in his cup of water and he said "yes please".

Matthew is learning to:
- sight read 8 or 9 new words per week. It helps him expand his vocabulary and practice his reading skill.
- speak more clearly so that unfamiliar people can understand him.
- verbally express himself with sentences I write for him to read at certain moments. I've never taken a mind-reading course but this is as close as I get.
- use language more conversationally and spontaneously.
- apply more concept words spontaneously each day.

Fine Motor Skills
Matthew can:
- use both hands to manipulate small objects. He shows preference for his left hand most of the time but he still switches back and forth.
- scribble with crayons and markers on an inclined, horizontal, and vertical surface. He can also imitate vertical lines, horizontal lines, and circles.
- twist lids off containers, turn doorknobs, lock deadbolts.
- snip paper with a modified preschool scissors. He can also cut play-doh with play-doh scissors but still has a hard time holding on to the scissors and coordinating the movement.
- turn single pages in paper books.

Matthew is learning to:
- use both hands in a more refined and coordinated manner. We need to improve his dexterity, hand strength, and visual-motor skills.
- draw a cross and simple shapes. We need to work on preprinting concepts.

Gross Motor Skills
Matthew can:
- confidently put his face in the pool, confidently jump in a pool with a swim vest or back float, and doggie paddle the whole length of a pool with a just back float strapped to him.

- jump in place with lift-off.
- jump 6" forward on level, even ground.

- walk up and down a flight of 6" high steps, holding the rail, one step at a time.
- walk up and down a single 6" high step hands-free.
- get on and off his tricycle with minimal assistance.
- hang with arms from a 7/8" diameter bar for 3 to 5 seconds.
- run.

Matthew is learning to:
- float on his back in the pool and improve his swim skills.
- jump off a 4" high step without hand support.
- walk up a flight of 6" high steps holding the rail, alternating feet.
- hang with arms from a bar for longer durations and lift legs while hanging.
- run with proper symmetry.

Self-help/ Independent Skills
Matthew can:
- use a spoon or fork to eat independently.
- wipe his mouth and clean up small messes at the table with prompting.

- take his plate to the kitchen sink after a meal, sometimes without any prompting.

- independently get on and off the toilet with a step stool, flush, and wash hands with verbal prompting.
- blow his nose into a tissue with adult assistance.
- pick between 2 shirts to wear each day.
- fasten the top velcro on his shoes, with prompting.
- step into his shoes to put them on.
- zip up a jacket (after it is started) and unzip with some assistance.
- independently remove socks.
- indpendently put on underwear/ naptime & nighttime pull-ups/ elasticized shorts/ elasticized pants, with verbal prompting and minimal assistance when he gets stuck. He sometimes needs help pulling up the backside of his underwear or pants/ shorts. I also have to hand him the underwear/ shorts/ pants so that he holds the waist and can readily put them on.

- put on a loose shirt over his head and put his arms through but the shirt has to be handed to him ready for him to slip on over his head.

Matthew is learning to:
- use a spoon and fork with more precision, less spilling.

- initiate and verbally communicate that he needs to go potty.
- zip up jacket (after it is started) while he holds the bottom part with one hand as he zips up.
- put on socks with assistance starting. He still has a hard time pulling it from the bottom over his heel up to his ankle.
- remove a loose shirt independently.
- put on underwear, elasticized pants/ shorts, without any assistance with pulling up the backside.
- identify the front of clothing from the back.

Social Skills
Matthew can:
- say "Excuse me" when he passes gas. And he grins from ear to ear.
- say "Bless you" without prompting when he hears someone sneeze.
- say "Thank you" and "You're welcome" most of the time without prompting and at appropriate situations.
- appropriately approach adults, especially when familiar to him. He's very sociable.
- get along with other kids and participate in group activities.

Matthew is learning to:
- appropriately approach, interact, initiate play or join a game with other kids. He's generally shy around his peers.
- ask for a turn with a toy, not just grab toys from Elizabeth.

Cognitive Skills
Matthew can:
- play Memory Game with up to 5 pairs.
- navigate my iPhone, his VTech VReader, and VTech Mobigo independently. He only needs help to slide the screen off the keypad on his Mobigo.
- understand number concepts up to 4, maybe even 5. I asked him to give Elizabeth 4 saltine crackers yesterday and he did it flawlessly.

Matthew is learning to:
- play other developmentally-appropriate board games.
- count with 1-to-1 correspondence more accurately.
- play more elaborately and appropriately with non-electronic toys with better attention span. He usually plays for 2-5 minutes and then he moves on to a different toy.

Senses and Perception
Matthew can:
- attend to tasks well when very alert. He is a visual learner and a kinesthetic learner. He also learns better by experiencing concepts rather than just hearing or reading about them. He tends to be under-responsive at times and benefits from various vestibular and proprioceptive activities for sensory input.
- demonstrate understanding of verbally-given familiar, simple 2-step directions (related & unrelated) in the same sequence it was requested with minimal distractions.
- repeat a verbal sequence of 3 to 4 objects or colors in the same order it was given.

Matthew is learning to:
- stay on task with activities.
- demonstrate understanding of verbally-given familiar, simple 3-step directions (related & unrelated) in the same sequence it was requested.

So this is where he's at developmentally. He will be 4 years old on October 5.


Runningmama said...

Oh my goodness, he is doing wonderful...kuddos to you! What do you use to teach him to sight read?

Rochelle said...

Rock Star! You are a sped teacher's dream parent too with all your organization and detail.

Ria said...

@Runningmama, thanks! Matthew works hard at it everyday. Actually, it's all playtime to him. For sight reading, I started with the guidelines in the book "Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome". Then I made a lot of homemade books/ videos. And now, we use plain homemade flashcards with unlined index cards. It evolved from there. I also used the Preschool Prep series (Meet the Letters & Meet the Sight Words dvds) for a while but now we just read their books.

Jill said...

Ria, this is such a great post! Wow Matthew is doing so well!! You are such a meticulous record keeper I am so impressed! You inspire me. I give you lots of kuddos for working so hard to keep Matthew moving forward. Sometimes it's hard for us to keep therapy in the front of our minds but you never let up and it shows!!

Andi Durkin said...

Great!!! Way to go! Now I have a whole bunch of goals for Jett to reach in the future. :D

Pallavi said...

He is doing a tons of things Ria :)
Good going Matthew and excellent job Ria!

Thanks a lot for sharing. If I never mentioned earlier here, I love reading your posts; they are so very well written(always) and extremely helpful. Thanks a ton