A Sensory Easter

It was a great Easter week (especially the weather) and with the usual great moments as well as some disappointments, we have kept our focus on fun learning with plenty of sensory activities filling the pauses.

This week, JB addressed his sensory needs in a variety of ways and mostly with jumping and bouncing and sometimes just sitting on the trampoline. He has begun to really experience the rush of adrenaline that comes with elevating even higher with his jumps and has thus gained confidence and skills with improved balance.

During JB’s walks, I have found also that he is running more so than walking, especially in open spaces. The proprioceptive input on the soles of his feet are impacting the soles of his feet and his leg and hip joints. Once the nerves in his joints have been stimulated, he can more effectively concentrate on other activities and process concepts of language and maths better.

JB is also finding periods throughout the day when he prefers to practice some yoga poses and stretches. After most mealtimes, he has been independently positioning himself into Downward Dog, Forward Fold and Cobra poses. All these poses give him needed pressure in his hands and feet. as well as the other joints. In the Cobra pose, the elbows and wrists engage to pronate the forearms, and the hips extend and the shoulders move towards the midline.

The gym ball is also a really beneficial piece of sensory equipment. Laying prone onto the ball enables comfortable and effective pressure on the whole front of the body as the person is rolled gently forwards and backwards. JB does this himself as he is now big enough, and is simultaneously meeting both proprioceptive and vestibular input.

The Importance of Balance

The vestibular machine begins early in brain development and continues to form vital brain connection to centres that govern posture, body, eye movements, arousal and sensory integration. For accurate perception, a person needs efficient balance. To ensure this, all other senses must work together with vestibular movements.

Painting eggs, scrunching tissue, engaging in family photo history and more painting

The cognitive skills of reading and writing, telling the time as well as an awareness of time that precedes an awareness of self in space all develop with an efficient vestibular system. Also impacted are emotions and stable eye movements. Allowing our children to change their bodily movements help to train and improve balance. These include up and down movements as in jumping and sliding, running and stopping, swinging, carousel rides, spinning, rolling, dancing and forward rolls. If you notice your child doing any of these, then s/he is seeking to make these vital connections.

‘Forward bend brings a fresh supply of blood to the head and tones the central nervous system’

Sonia Sumar

A Word on Yoga

JB is finding specific times throughout the day when he prefers to do some yoga stretches. After most of the family meals, he has been independently stretching in downward dog, forward fold and cobra positions. All these poses give him the needed pressure in his hands and feet. In the Cobra pose, the elbows and the wrists engage to pronate the forearm, the hips extend and the shoulders adduct. During Downward Facing Dog, the shoulder, hip and wrist flexors engage and the knees extend. This position also enhances balance, a skill not to be under emphasised. During this position, with the head below the heart, the added benefits include increased circulation and *lymphatic drainage.

As part of the Sun Salutation practice, this in general benefits the nervous system and strengthens all the muscles in the body.

Many researchers have emphasised the movement exercises such as yoga, that target perception, are useful to process trauma as they assist in relieiving tenson that we most often hold in the body.

JB finds mealtimes sometimes stressful with the family talking, the clanking of cutlery and the mere presence of a ‘crowd’, as he is trying to concentrate on eating. He has found a way of releasing the tension immediately on finishing his food while the rest of us are still sitting as he pursues the yoga stretches he has familiarized himself with.

*Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system keeps the lymph fluid flowing in one direction and once cleaned, back to the bloodstream. A healthy lymphatic system fights infection, drains excess fluid and absorbs fat (https://lymphoedema.bsmedical.com).

Learning through JB’s Interests

At the outset, I decided it would be more effective for JB to learn through topics he has already shown an interest in. So the theme for this week was Paddington Bear.

Many of his activities have had direct relevance to the book, which he wants read to him every evening at bedtime and he is mostly happy to just listen, although he also loves looking at his favourite pictures. In English, he listened to modelled language describing a particular picture as he coloured it in, which allowed him to verbally respond without any pressure on him and this is helping to expand his vocabulary, engage in conversation and reinforce correct grammar. Also included was colour and shape recognition and he learned about some London landmarks. By Friday, JB was able to simply describe the beginning, middle and end of the story. He enjoyed making orange marmalade, sandwiches and cupcakes which culminated into a tea party. Of course the making of the marmalade and cupcakes involves, measuring, counting, coordination, new vocabulary and language, seeing changes of food and best of all the tasting. Rich maths, physical, organisational and science activities.

His physical play involved mostly trampolining, dancing and karate which is a new found love as daddy is black belt and two sisters practiced it for many years in their youth, so he has lots of teachers available! Ample music was enjoyed, playing the cello, singing songs from Coco and many afternoons watching Sheku Kanneh-Mason on You Tube. He also did lots of mark-making and hand over hand writing.

The topics we have planned in the coming weeks include Easter, Dragons, Coco, monkeys and forests including the rainforest. All these will be high motivation topics for JB that will comfortably sit within the aims of his learning, with consistency and repetition which is key in cementing his learning into long term memory.

JB is preparing his lunch with support.

In case you are wondering why the marmalade is a browny-orange, and the cake mixture is also brown, it is because JB’s diet is sugar free and we used coconut sugar to sweeten these. He is also wheat, dairy and gluten free, so we had to find specialist recipes that used coconut oil instead of butter, and coconut flour, although we could also have used almond flour.

Thanks for sharing our week. Please check in next week, where we will explore sensory activities in more detail… have a great weekend ūüôā

A Day in the Life of our Brains – and how we can make most use of them

Knowing details of how the brain works will benefit us and our children as we apply simple strategies to enhance their learning beyond their expectations.

The day is dawning….

..It is about 6.30am and our brains are slowly gaining consciousness; it takes a few minutes. After a great night’s sleep, we and our children are getting ready for an exciting day ahead!

We have just woken from a regular period in our lives where surges of chemical transmitters that connect brain cells (neurons) cause a targeted cell to become either activated or dormant. A neuron that is activated will cause a knock-on effect at an incredibly high speed. The transmitter at work during our wonderful hours of sleep, acetylocholine, is organised (as daytime transmitters are) to spray across clusters of neurons as well as simply connect neurons.

We go through cycles of 5 different stages of sleep. The 4th stage is the deepest of all and it is when we experience rapid eye movement. Researchers have told us that not only does the brain re-organise learning during a normal night’s sleep, but that when we are in our deepest sleep stage, any learning we encountered shortly before we fell asleep is actually strengthened in our memory locations of the brain when we hear an external voice repeat the information to us out loud.

As teenagers, our children want to stay up late and get up late and the hormone melatonin is causing this tendency. Unfortunately, schools that start the day early are actually causing sleep deprivation and daytime tiredness. (Carskadon, Woltson, Acebo, Tzischinsky and Seifer, 1998) The brain at this stage of development is going through enormous structural change and teenagers need to sleep to manage what is happening in their brain; this is when the brain organises and stores new learning.

Memory Map Creation

7- 9 hours of sleep is required per night, and in all of us, messengers in the brain travel down neurons to junction points. When these neurons are connected at these junctions, they produce structural proteins which strengthens our memory and perhaps doubles our chances of remembering. During slumbertime, the brain decides which memories to strengthen and which to forget or eradicate.

Breaking our Fast!

“Eat” is often the first word my son tells me first thing in the morning. However, the 7 or so hours of sleep has caused an element of dehydration and the brain is screaming to be hydrated. In the cooler mornings I drink some herb tea, otherwise a large glass of water with a squeeze of lemon is the gift I give to my brain and body each morning. The brain is composed of 73% water, and so we need to keep it hydrated in order to continue normal functioning and development. 8-12 glasses per day is recommended for all ages.

OK it’s ‘eat’ time! Fruit follows with perhaps a smoothie containing seeds (essential enzymes) with some oats thrown in for me. My son prefers granola with maybe some grapes in the mix, it’s healthy, it’s brain food and very importantly, it’s quick!

Time to leave…. whether we’re walking our children to school or driving them, some fresh air and exercise first thing in the morning benefits our brains enormously. During exercise, oxygen gets carried to the brain and the brain experiences exercise as we exercise our more obvious muscles. This is also excellent grounding for our children who have sensory issues. If we are driving our children to school, as I do, we might provide them with some exercise before we leave. My son loves his small trampoline, dancing, spinning, stretching and loves to copy my deep breathing. When we go to the car, he enjoys pulling  and pushing the door open and closed; this all benefits him with his sensory needs.

Additionally, his school involve him in Sensory Circuits every morning and P.E. twice per week.

 Our children walk into their classroom, and a few changes need to be made in order for effective learning to take place. Firstly, their emotional states need to be tuned into positive learning states. (See my blog on why my son’s emotions are my priority). Secondly, the children need to feel secure. That means, there are no threats from any other children or indeed adults. This covers, bullying at all levels, humiliation and a fear of these occurances. They need to feel autonomous with the other children in the class and a skill of the teacher is to ensure s/he creates this environment before s/he starts to teach.

As teaching begins, the brain starts to release chemicals that arouse anticipation, engagement, excitement and motivation. As the teacher primes the children for the topic, the brain is receiving these signals and continues to release chemicals and neurons start to fire, creating neuronal assemblies at its best.

Multi-sensory teaching is the most effective way the brain receives information and if the emotions are involved, all the better. The three essential   elements of learning are 1) seeing 2) hearing and saying and 3) understanding the meaning. These three inputs stimulate three different areas of our brain: the  Visual Cortex at the back of our brain, the  Auditory Cortex at the side of our  brain and the Anterior Central Lobe. All these areas must have strong connections with each other in order for memory to be laid down and then the ability to retrieve them.

Dr Lane’s A.R.R.O.W. Programme using the learners own voice involves all of these elements and together with other techniques that stimulate learning, the programme heightens and accelerates learning in all abilities of children. The average and above average child needs only a few hours working on the programme to soar their literacy skills above and beyond normal expectations. The struggling learner will progress with just a few extra hours additionally developing their self-esteem and confidence as well as concentration.

The bell rings, yay, it’s finally lunch time and those hungry brains need food!

I provide a packed lunch for my son to ensure he gets a nutritional and filling lunch. About 40% of his lunch cosists of complex carbohydrates like brown rice, whole spelt pasta and less often rice noodles. The rest consists of vegetables such as peppers, broccolli, carrots or courgettes or a comination of these. I may also sprinkle some seeds or lentils to bulk the protein content. (Both quinoa and spelt pasta have very high protein content). I may also add nutritional yeast (vitamin B), raw garlic (to strengthen immunity), raw onion or organic soy sauce with a generous drizzling of organic virgin olive oil.

As with all children and adults with special needs, they tire quite quickly and so nutritional snacks and some rest between meals and focused learning is actually essential for memory processing; and to generally revive lagging batteries. Hello, we all need to follow this advice as we need to takecare of ourselves too right?

Why the Brain Needs  Certain Nutrients?

Good nutrition is claimed to be the most important during the early years of brain development. Our food needs to provide the nutrients necessary for learning. They are: proteins, fats, complex carbohydrates and sugars. Trace elements are also vital, and include iron, boron, selenium, vanadium and potassium which all ensure improved concentration.

What specific foods are good for the brain? If you are panicking at this point because your child refuses to eat vegetables, or any other healthy foods, please don’t. Supplements are a sure way to get those all essential nutrients into their system.

So, here goes..

Vitamin A found in orange vegetables supports learning and memory. For faster brain connectivity, brain cells need a coating called myelin, and this is found in protein, iron and selenium. Students with diets lacking vitamin B12 have been found to have reduced learning ability. In addition, too much dietry fat and generally unbalanced diets can impair cognitive function. If we ensure that over a few days children are eating the following, distributed between their meals and snacks throughout the day, we are assured their brains are adequately fed.

Leafy green vegetables, lean meats, nuts, salmon and a range of other vegetables including the orange coloured ones are top of the list. Many vegetables are best eaten raw. Fresh fruits, whole grains such as brown rice, cereal and pasta are all important additions. Vitamins contained in many of these foods (A,B,C, and E), are critical for brain maintenance, protection, vision strength and memory. Essential fatty acids, especially omega 3 and 6, play a vital role in the development and function of the brain and eyes as well as memory.

Our brains have been working hard for half a day.

Look out for part two covering how social interaction, music, happy times, affection and tomorrow all impact our brains!


A.R.R.O.W. UK: http://www.arrowtuition.co.uk

A.R.R.O.W. Trinidad: http://www.arrowlearn.com

Dealing with Meltdowns, Building Positive Memories and Working with the Brain

Do you ever ‘lose it’ when your child is having a meltdown? Do you ever feel that this may never ever end? Do you feel hopeless as you try strategies that have your friends have given you, but don’t work? Read on and you may actually have found the one that does work, as I did. This was the turning point for me that improved my emotional health and developed my relationship with my son into a much more meaningful and enjoyable one.

Meltdowns are a part of many parents lives who have children with special needs, as well as those who have no diagnosis and how we deal with these meltdowns can make or break the downward spiral. We can work with our child’s brain to enable our children to have more successfully mature and emotional judgemental outcomes by using relatively straight-forward strategies which I will now try to explain with the help of Dr Daniel Siegal and Dr Tina Payne Bryson’s book The Whole Brain Child as well as neuroscientist Dr Caroline Leaf from her publication Switch on your Brain.

This is what typically happens when our child is having a meltdown or tantrum. The root cause could be fear or anger but at this point the child is unable to control these emotions. (We must also bear in mind that there are other types of tantrums that are pre-determined, they would need to be dealt with differently).

What we need to be aware of firstly is that during this emotional turmoil, we need to relieve the child of this experience and help them gain an understanding of what set them off using the frontal lobe to reason the whole cause. Dr Siegal and Bryson call this dealing with the upstairs and the downstairs brain. The upstairs brain is the frontal lobe which governs judgement and reason,and the downstairs brain is the amygdala that is situated in the limbic region. Basically, the amygdala takes over when the meltdown is in full swing, therefore the frontal lobe has been totally hijacked and cannot function!



Step One

Think and remember about the brain functions and try to calm your child down. This could involve expressing your empathy in a loving tone, letting him/her know that you understand how s/he feels. Accompanying this with soft strokes and hugs  should eventually calm your child and allow the frontal lobe to kick in.

Step Two

Once we have calmed our child, we can then explain what caused the loss of control. Whatever the cause, in most instances it can be explained. For example, if your child played football and was consistently kicking the ball too high that it nearly went over the fence into private land and you warned your child that it would take a while to retrieve. Eventually the ball was kicked over the fence and your child’s downstairs brain has taken control. Once the upstairs brain is back on track s/he can then understand this reasoning and accept the consequences of not keeping the ball low enough and therefore could not get the ball back straightaway. This is the optimum time to talk about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.


I recently ran a positive thinking talking group with five nine and ten year olds. They were a very mixed group of personalities, all very bright with just a couple having some behaviour and social issues.

What I discovered about them was quite revealing as they expressed their own stories, thoughts and emotions and led me to wonder how other children deal with emotional quadries in their everyday lives.

I am now going to outline the process that the children learned about how the brain initiates knock-on effects whenever there is a thought, positive or negative. Thoughts run through our minds most of the time, and each thought affects each one of us as adults and children: our emotions, behaviour, reasoning and long-term memory.

When talking with my nine and ten year olds, we discussed different calming down options they might use. They expressed that they get annoyed and as such they do not all typically have meltdowns, but they said how useful it was to know how the brain works and what to do. Some strategies they used included reading a book for escapism, listening to music and going to their room to wind down. Other effective options include deep breathing and taking a  walk or some other exercise.

When we have negative memories, we can biologically replace them with positive ones and we can eventually teach our children to do the same.

Firstly, building a positive short-term memory and eliminating negative ultimately boils down to five steps according to Dr Leaf on the principles and the discoveries of the parts of the brain in the limbic region located at the centre of the brain. The amygdala, hypothalamus, thalamus and the hippocampus.

As we have a thought, the amygdala steps in and releases chemicals based on the type of thought it is. If it is a negative thought, it releases certain chemicals that get sent to the thalamus which is converted to a negative emotion or emotions. When we are feeling and experiencing that emotion, multisensory in nature, we are unable to think reasonably, thus, we cannot reason nor judge in a balanced way about the root of the emotion or thought because our frontal lobe has little power left and all resources have rushed to the amygdala. The amygdala is programmed to receive positive thoughts and has wonderfully positive repercussions. The negative repercussions on the other hand, cause stress on our mental and physical well-being.

The Deep Thinking Brain Technique

All our behaviours and attitudes are a result of our unique brain and our unique brain is a result of our behaviours and attitudes. So, ultimately we have to work on our brains to make us the people we desire to become, because we can change our brains.

Firstly choose to have a daily life where you control your thoughts- to be happy and healthy.

We then need to wire into our neuronal networks positive thoughts by gathering our past memories through knowledge, events, circumstances and ideas, and reflecting on these including writing them down which is useful.

Separate the negative and positive memories and write your desired positive alternatives to the existing negative ones. Then redesign the negative thought by changing it or strenghening it.

Think about your reaction to the thought.

For example..

.. I have a memory of my child having a meltdown and destroying everything in my kitchen!

I contemplate that memory which involved alot of anguish on my part as well.

Now I want to change this negative memory by replacing it with my son displaying really cheerful behaviour which is also part of who he is, and my consequential joy at his behavoural progress.

My reaction to this thought releases the chemicals in my brain giving me positive emotions which the amygdala then sends to my hippocampus for memory storage.

I need to revisit this thought every day for 21 days for permanant long-term storage and change from my negative memory to positive.

Where A.R.R.O.W. Fits In

The A.R.R.O.W. Literacy Programme developed by Dr Colin Lane, works in much the same way, which is why the positive changes a user exeriences with short term memory, self-esteem and general literacy and maths skills are extraordinary. The five steps in this case involve the seeing and hearing of a tutor voice, responding, using ones own voice, hearing your voice and reinforcing it by writing it down and checking it. With the saturation principle in force, the brain is processing the material in much the same way, with positive thoughts and the release of the chemicals that cement  the emotions and learning as the process is repeated.

This change means that as we think more deeply, the more the change we can make, and what is actually happening is that electromagnetic and quantum forces together with the neurotransmitters (positive happiness chemicals) activate genetic expression and protein synthesis. The proteins are used to grow new dendrites (branches) to hold our thoughts.

As I have applied these practices, I feel that I have a much better handle of everyday life, although I still have my off days. However, these are significantly less frequent and the gain of my happiness lever means that I can enjoy my child with the confidence of handling any meltdowns without added stress for me, which ultimately can trigger a prolonged meltdown or more frequent ones.

Everything we read, watch and listen to will impact our conscious and subconscious minds. So, to accompany our positive thought-life, surrounding ourselves with an uplifting environment will build on developing a hopeful and positively happy life enabling us and our children to have more often the power to deal with challenges that will confront us generally and as we expect positive outcomes and develop strategies to deal with our childrens difficult daily moments, these will give us the peace of mind and emotional security we desperately need.


The Pandora’s Box of Summer Camps

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Contemplating the plethora of summer camps for our children this summer can be daunting with choices from vividly adventurous outdoor pursuits to assemblies of academic activities ranging in settings the world over from the mountains of Colorado, busy city of London, the world over is spilling out a realm of entertaining pastimes to keep our children busy and us as parents happily guilt-free. Here I will outline the benefits of camps, what to look out for and how to prepare our special needs child for camp this summer.

Why do I believe a quality camp is a brain enhancing and therefore a developmentally progressive option?

I as a parent and a camp organiser,I have seen the enormous benefits a camp can instill into children of all ages. My own children have attended various camps which have included performing arts and music camp, family oriented camp with lots of nature visits, and they have attended ¬†the A.R.R.O.W. camp which I organised and they all have fond memories of all the camps many years later expressing how they loved, loved loved them. Whilst running the A.R.R.O.W. camp in Trinidad, I could see the development of the children as the weeks progressed. My own children who attended enjoyed the social aspect. The development of the campers’ self-esteem was evident after only a short time using the A.R.R.O.W. programme and this was further developed during the various enriching activities. And many of the same children come back year after year.

It is important to remember that not all children want to go to a camp, but keeping your child’s brain active with plenty of diverse activities is the best way to go. This means not overloading on academics but especially for those who may be struggling at school, this should be scheduled into their regular day. Stimulating their brain with the learning they have been doing during the rest of the year should be a small portion compared to outdoor energetic play, imaginative play, social play, quiet reflection and free time which could include making choices between music, art,creating, reading writing and journal ling.

Image result for pictures of mountains children outdoor swimming drawing on computerRelated imageImage result for children doing music black children

Some interesting research was conducted on what common pursuits high performing scientists had and here are the results :

  1. They were also musicians
  2. they were highly artistic
  3. they wrote exceptionally well       (Barron 1969; Bachtold and Werner 1970)

Given these research results, it is clear that these are areas we should allow our children to have the opportunity to explore with pleasure and develop without judgement or pressure.

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Planning a Summer Camp for your Special Needs Child

As with all children, we need to determine our child’s interests, age and personality. We also need to seriously consider what activities will support his/her learning and general development as well as for school.


Arrange a pre-visit without and then with your child to the camp to meet the staff and explore the area.

Prepare your child with discussions about the camp and you could use pictures

Ensure the caring support that your child needs are going to be met and that they know his/her likes and dislikes.

Ensure the staff are trained and experienced

Opt for a shorter day option if it means your child will retain the enthusiasm, rather than tire her out completely and the end of each day becomes too strenuous.

Help prepare your child if it is a residential camp by asking necessary questions to develop their logical frontal lobe part of the brain by fostering self-understanding. Such questions should help them to think of solutions. Following is an example of what you could say;

“Do you expect to feel homesick?”

“How do you think you will cope with this?”

“If you feel homesick, what could you do to feel better?”

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What Else Should we Look out for?

I asked several friends who are teaching staff at a Primary School in the UK what their priority needs were when looking for a camp for their own children. The results were very similar with trained staff coming out on top. Also CRB checks (Police checks) completed, first-aiders, quality camp equipment and a variety of activities were among the priorities they expressed. Now these may be different to other parents’ checklists. My friends in the Caribbean may have very different wants. One friend responded by saying ¬†“Building blocks, art or any kinetic movement activities to keep my busy bees happy and engaged.” Another Canadian friend who lives in the UK said “Something fun and educational, that would appeal to children who are shy and wary of leaving home! I’d love a Robotics camp, or advanced computer camp to create an app.” Another friend mentioned peace and happiness… thank you guys, I love these.

Our diverse children in many countries of the world offer camps to suit nearly every taste and budget. Exploring camps from the green slopes of Japan to the Caribbean, USA to Europe, I am hoping to arrive with you to a place where we can pick out the best ideas from these places and find a setting for our children based on what they love and what we love for them.

Mountains of Japan

Hakuba International school project. This camp is situated in the natural alps of Northern Japan. Set in open plan classrooms, Hakuba International’s main aim is to provide a first class educational institution with overnight facilities in a stunning valley. It offers hiking, rafting, mountain biking and wake-boarding for outdoor activities while also allowing children indoor time with visual arts, digital communication and music.


Arte Al Sole is based in Florence. This camp offers international children a week long stay with session of art, culture and national science of Tuscany.


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Best Summer Camps in USA (residential)

  1. An adventure outdoor camp offering horseback riding , hiking , archery and riflery set in the Colorado mountains.
  2. An outdoor camp offering sailing, singing , playing music, art , building fires and play.
  3. Youth conservation corps. They prepare meals, perform chores and provide environmental education with adventure programming. They call themselves sewerdship programmes as opposed to a summer camp. and have the participants work occassionally in mud surrounded by mosquitoes.
  4. Located near mountains this camp also offers water sports, creative arts, horseback riding and additional outdoor activities.
  5. The Roller Coaster Camp visits a variety of amusement parks  in different cities with the campers experiencing thrills from rollers coasters and staying at top well known hotel chains while travelling in luxury buses.


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A.R.R.O.W. (day camp)

This is a camp situated in the busy capital, Port of Spain, on the island of Trinidad. It offers the unique A.R.R.O.W. programme and thus caters for children who may be struggling at school with their literacy, concentration, self-esteem or listening skills. This programme is used every morning and afternoons are spent on art projects, outdoor games, music, yoga and a variety of excursions around the town, exploring both city and natural environments. Breakfast is provided and all staff are fully trained and experienced. (see http://www.arrowtt.com)

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The United Kingdom (day camps)

  1. Best for academics. The Oxford Summer Academy which provides an academic based setting  for 16-19 year old. Campers are lectured by Oxford graduates who can help them to excel in their desired field. There are cultural and historical excursions around and outside of the city.
  2. Best for all-round. Location: London. This offers specialized camp experiences for 3-17 year olds. Their three main focuses are sport, art and drama. Being cosy, welcoming, fun,convenient for parents and above-all, safe.
  3. Best for adventure (residential) Location: Scotland. Setting: The Lord of the Rings type. They offer canoeing, hiking, climbing, beach art, fashion shows, karaoke and quiz nights.
  4. Best for cultural experience. Location: Yorkshire. Half of the campers are from abroad and therefore the children are able to socialize from others from all over the world. They offer various outdoor activities. Safety and welfare is their main concern. Caring staff are chosen for their ability to work with children.

Alot to think about? Yes, but I hope you find the right camp for your child(ren), and if they don’t want to go, that’s fine as well. By all means, all we want for our children this summer as always is peace and happiness!

Making Maths Magical for JB this Summer

Teaching maths is easier and more fun when learned through other mediums, such as through the environment and through stories and poems. When we allow children to learn early maths skills and concepts this way, we are allowing a joyful experience that makes long-term neural connections because it is accompanied with positive emotions, fun language and play.

Stories with maths make a useful structure for extending play. During the summer break, JB will have lots of containers to use to fill, transfer and empty in a variety of shapes and sizes. I know he will do this because he enjoys doing it and therefore he needs it. This activity is extremely absorbing and teaches weight and measure. Language used will include ‘full’, ’empty’, ‘more’, ‘less’, ‘bigger’, ‘smaller’ etc.

Size can also be reinforced by playing with boxes of various sizes. Organising treasure boxes to discover and to make, ensures wonder and discovery is mixed in. An activity that I will enjoy with JB will involve collecting treasures we find outside; in the park, at the beach and fill the boxes with them such as leaves, twigs, small stones, and flowers. The objects collected will reflect the size of the box they will go in.

The language used will make essential links between the experience children get from the world and mathematics. Askew (1999).

Counting and the Outdoors

The ability to count with accuracy is the fundamental math skill to calculating and quantifying. The skills and concepts involved include reciting number names in order, counting objects as well as remembering which object we started with, understanding that any tangible or non-tangible thing can be counted and that zero represents nothing.

Games and Activities

Football Goals

After lining up 10 footballs, ask your child to kick each ball into the goal one by one. At the end, count how many balls went into the goal and how many did not. Vocabulary used here include, ‘aim’, ‘kick goal’, ‘miss’, numbers to 10, ‘count’, ‘how many’, ‘more’, ‘less’.

Find the Creatures

Bury a variety of plastic bugs in the soil or sand. Play with your child asking ‘lets see how many creatures we can find’, providing a small container to put them in. This can be followed up by categorising the creatures if you have a few of each spiders, beetles and frogs for examples as well as counting each category and counting them in total.

Let Your Child Lead You

For most of the day, I will allow JB lead the play with a short period of adult initiated activities. I find for JB that first thing in the morning and last thing at night are the best times. Before bedtime I would use fiction and non-fiction books.

If we know what our child needs to master, we can organise the activities beforehand and have the options available for our children to choose. For specific games and activities outside, I will plan to carry these out during the earlier part of the day when I know JB will most likely respond and be engaged. Children in general are happier when they have chosen their activity (as many reception teachers have realised and are now practising this) and as such, learning is more effective again, because positive emotions are being tapped into.

Sensory Play

Sand offers a multiplicity of learning opportunities, especially when teamed with other materials.

  1. Metal and wooden containers provide extra-sensory experiences and invites plenty of maths language
  2. We can add larger versions of buckets and spades, reinforcing more weight and quantity maths concepts. Making mud food is and improvement of the old mud pies which also encourages children to move around whilst learning.
  3. using measuring cups and scales, we can develop fun imaginative play in a play kitchen which can set up outside and talk about weights and measures

Other Maths Activities

Apart from the abovementioned forms of play, there are other activities that I will use with JB. I have listed these in categories.

Visual and Auditory

A.R.R.O.W. | Doman dot flash cards | Mandala patterns | Face reading | Sign Language

Tactile Sensory

Building with blocks | Printing with blocks | Playing with pebbles | Sand paper numbers | Sand, soil and water play

Discussion Activities

Sand and water play | Transferring | Mandala Patterns | Cooking | Cogs | Games | Imaginative play

Practical Life

Transferring | Sweeping | Cleaning windows, tables etc. (Spatial Awareness) | Cooking | Role play


Pointing out numbers | Counting objects in environments | Pointing out large and small objects in environments | Talking about objects that are the same or different (ie size, colour, shape etc.) | Running in different sized spaces (playing ‘tag’, encourages spatial awareness) |Singing number songs in transit | Talking about fast and slow

Specific Places to Visit

Historic places | Theme parks | Beaches | Animal Parks/Zoos | Museums | Live music performances | Theatre | Parks and playgrounds | Forests and walks | Art galleries

Focused one to one Activities

Puzzles | Sand paper numbers | Classification | Mandala Patterns | Maths language flash cards

Using the Arts for Maths

Using instruments | Listening and dancing to music | Counting beats | Singing number songs with actions | Painting | Printing numbers and shapes


Rhymes and songs | Stories and factual to introduce and reinforce a visit or experience | Reinforce maths concepts of quantity, shapes, classification , same and different

Maths Resources

I will use most of these ideas for much our summer. There are however many more activities to do to address other areas of development but maths remains one of my priorities. I hope we all have a lot of fun with our children as we teach them and my hope is also to take care of ourselves and have some relaxation after each exhausting day! Look out for my next blog on summer activities to addrress Fine Motor Skills.

Cornelia xx

The Early Years Foundation Stage & How JB Fits Into It

The EYFS simply described is a set of developmental stages for the under 5’s that outlines specific educational and developmental milestones for each early years age group that each child is expected to reach. It is a compulsory framework for almost all under 5 providers in England who are expected to provide opportunities planned around each child’s needs and interests which need regular reviews and assessments.

It was of course no surprise to me when I received JB’s first report based on the EYFS. Areas involving working relationships, speech and listening and attention were meeting much younger age groups developmentally. So based on his levels, I have devised a thorough work plan for him to help him reach the expected levels whilst progressing at his own pace. Progress here is the key word, small steps or large isn‚Äôt the issue.


I didn’t want JB mainstreamed expecting him to overnight meet all the expected levels. I’m mainstreaming him to give him the opportunities and exposure of everyday language from his peers, high expectations from teaching staff, behaviour and modelling to emulate, goals to reach and accepted and loved for who he is. We have been shown time after time that children with Down Syndrome do better in mainstream schools, so giving it a good go makes complete sense.


As much as the EYFS is criticised for its overly prescriptive and overly assessment demands, I see its point. I think it is particularly useful for parents and teachers of children who have special educational needs. I am using this framework to know which areas of development I need to concentrate on for JB in activities both after school and especially during the upcoming summer holidays. This is to prepare him as best as possible using a variety of activities which repeat a same learning concept in different and creative ways whilst and keeping it flexible.

So at JB’s last assessment combined with my own knowledge of where he is at developmentally and educationally, I have planned a timetable for him which I will share. Firstly, lets look at the EYFS. The EYFS is divided into 7 areas of development which are:

The Prime Areas;

  1. Communication and Language
  2. Physical Development
  3. Personal, social and emotional development

The Secondary areas;

  1. Literacy
  2. Maths
  3. Understanding the world
  4. Expressive arts and design



These are the specific areas broken down and where JB is at present. These are approximations:

Moving and handling                           22-36mths

Health and self-care                             22-36mths

Speaking                                                    16-26mths

Understanding                                        30-50mths

Listening and attention                       30-50mths

Managing feelings and behaviour    22-36mths

Self-confidence and awareness        30-50mths

Making relationships                           22-36mths

Exploring and using Media                 22-36mths

Being Imaginative                                 22-36mths

People and communities                     30-50mths

The world                                                  22-36mths

Technology                                               30-50mths

Numbers                                                    22-36mths

Shape, space and measure                   22-36mths

Reading                                                       30-50mths

Writing                                                        22-36mths



As well as JB’s day to day topics schedule detailed below, outings will address many of the topics and experiences that JB needs, and these will comprise a bulk of the summer. Music is included daily because JB cannot live without it! He shows a great interest in music and this therefore translates into a great need. Books will help to address and reinforce reading, the world, people and communities, numbers, listening and attention, understanding and speaking. Trips to the park, swimming and other forms of exercise will also be incorporated into his daily routine.


Music and movement

Reading and speech (flash cards)


Tactile sensory

Managing feelings

Writing and fine motor



Music and movement

Imaginative play






music and movement

writing and fine motor


tactile sensory

managing feelings and behaviour

The world




Music and movement

Imaginative play







Music and movement

Writing and fine motor


The world






Gross motor



Tactile sensory



This is JB‚Äôs plan, designed for him. What I am encouraging is that each of us keeps taking our children a step forward each day, waking them up a little more each hour by being aware of what they need. It is also important to know that they need ‚Äėdown time‚Äô, meaning after some energetic learning (and all concentrated and experiential learning requires a lot of energy for the brain), we must give our children at least five minutes to relax to let everything process. This goes for typical children as well and this is important to know. Ideally a relaxing walk will help with this, but just letting go is key.

Recommended websites




In my next few blogs, I will detail the activities that I will use with JB for each topic each day. I will include details of resources, techniques and further sources of information for each topic.  My next post will cover maths which includes shapes, space and measure as well as numbers. If there is any really good information I am missing, please let me know.

It’s been fun so far, let’s keep moving our children forward together with fun.

Thanks, Cornelia xx


If I’m Happy, JB is Happy. But What Makes Me Happy?

In my last blog I talked about the importance of positive emotions on children’s learning and how I manage to keep JB happy. But given the demands of parenting a child with special needs, how do I manage to stay emotionally positive to ensure this works?¬†As I happened on some literature, simultaneously experiencing¬†fluctuating levels of happiness since I had JB, I thought writing about how I have managed to keep emotionally content and arriving at a more consistent ‘happy’.

Undoubtedly, having a child under 5  who in addition has special needs is no easy feat for any mother. I say mother not to out rule fathers, but more often than not, it is the mother who spends the most time in bringing up the children. I know there are many fathers out there who take on that role for various reasons and hats off to you. So here I was thinking when my third and last child (so I thought) became a teenager, that I was free from mothering young children forever, when Рok then, hello little one!

So, after the shock x 2, no 3, I settle into my new role, new life I start to wonder more deeply, what helps to make mothers consistently happy to ensure their children are happy, settled and secure? The consensus certainly seems to be that unhappy mothers cannot fully and convincingly provide what it takes to produce emotionally happy children.

2016 sees a time of more demands on a mother than any other time in history. Mothers need to not only nurture and love their children (which is the easy part), but educate, teach, nurse, organise extra activities as well as take them and pick them up, buying and providing nourishing meals, ensuring homework is completed, and the home is organised and clean. In addition, if you have a child with special needs there are hospital visits, therapy appointments, equipment hauling, behaviour management, extra time management, extra lessons and extra laundry! An exhausting life, but is it a happy one? Surveys show that in 2010, a mother spent an average of 4 extra hours per week with her children than one in 1965. A university graduate mother spent an extra 9 hours per week with her children whilst more likely additionally working outside the home.

After reading recently a book entitled The Pursuit of happiness by Ruth Whippman (for Netmums) I concluded as she did, that there are simply just a few answers (and quite obvious ones) to the dilemma we as mothers and mothers of children with special needs periodically ask ourselves; how do I keep happily afloat in the midst of a seemingly never-ending obligation of ¬†super-mothering a child with special needs? I say ‘super-mothering’ because keeping our children emotionally happy and learning is no easy feat.

John Medina in his book Brain Rules for Baby, also clearly explains the ways a child can suffer of we as mothers are not holding our emotional thing together. And gladly gives similar evidence and clarifications as Whippman does in her book. Medina explains a conference he was presenting at when a father asked him ‘how do I get my child into Harvard? Medina responded by saying something like, go home and love your wife!

My previous blog on emotions briefly illustrated the consequences of violence and aggression towards children. This also applies when such acts are displayed in front of children. According to Medina and his research, if there is emotional upset between parents, the child’s developing brain will be influenced negatively. However, if we think of the main causes of marital conflict, we can start to break down those causes which are:¬†social isolation, unequal workload, depression and sleep loss.

For example, a typical stay-at-home-mum could easily work up to 94.4 hours per week which outside the home would earn around £80,000 per year. Most men do not spend 94.4 hours per week at work and most men earn less than £80,000 per year.

Once couples are aware of the main causes of marital conflict and they prepare for them, the effects are much diminished.

So what are some of the counter practices that can help marriages and our children’s emotional and cognitive stability and development?


When we argue relating to the abovementioned issues, we are thinking asymmetrically. I am right, you are wrong! Empathy however creates symmetry and therefore produces less hostility. The behaviorist John Gottman could predict divorce probabilities with accuracy nearing 90%. In his studies, he revealed that a marriage was pretty much divorce proof if the wife felt her husband was listening to her enough to influence his behaviour. Empathy is powerful and works well because it only requires understanding. This works for all members of the family; when each person practices empathy , relationships naturally flourish.

With regards to parenting, “empathy” Gottman said “not only matters; it is the foundation of effective parenting.”


Mothers need to ask themselves some honest questions:

  1. Do I have many friends?
  2. What social groups do I and my husband belong to?
  3. How diverse are my friends?

Social isolation can lead to clinical depression which can also increase the risk of heart disease, infectious diseases and overall health.Belonging to social groups is the antidote to isolation and it is important that we seek out friendships and make the effort to maintain them. Since I was 19, I have moved to very different areas and essentially had to ‘start again’ with regards to my social circles. In each new place I lived, I encountered quite different experiences as each stage of my life was different. Belonging to a church however has made this much much easier where neighbourly love and friendship is encouraged and provided.

The Grant Study is a thorough research of the study of happiness that spanned nearly 75 years on 268 Harvard undergraduates, and intricately investigated every aspect of their lives. George Vaillant was the psychologist that lead this study and in answer to the question of what makes a good life, what makes us happy? revealed; ‘The only thing that really matters in life (is) your relationships to other people.’

Whippman interestingly talks somewhat about social media interactions. From researchers Kross, Ethan et al., it reveals that ‘Facebook use predicts decline in subjective well-being in young adults.’

Intense parenting itself has suggested through research that mothers (who give parenting an intense approach) are more likely to be unhappy with higher risk of depression; three times higher than the overall population. (Journal of Child and Family Studies).

I met an interesting couple on the train recently, with 2 of their 7 children. As we talked , the mother revealed that their 4 sons all had ASD. Both parents explained the difficulties that they had to cope with on a daily basis. As I scrutinised her unflawed, beautifully made up face, I silently wondered how she could look so unfrazzlled and well.As if she could read my thoughts she then said that there are too many demands made on mothers and gave a strong impression that she does not bow to these demands.

How do I manage to stay a happy mummy?

  1. Give my family priority time, phone calls mostly although skyping gets used almost daily.
  2. Visit and keep in touch with family and old and new friends. (I still have some way to go with this though).
  3. practice empathy as much as possible.
  4. give myself some ‘me’ time.
  5. exercise (mostly yoga and walking in the fresh air!)
  6. eat well to stay healthy (There’s nothing worse than feeling unwell).
  7. Relax! That means, I try not to take every detail seriously but have fun whilst doing my motherly duties.
  8. Ultimately it’s about love.. for God, my children, myself and the world around me.

Love you guys too!

Cornelia xx






JB’s Emotions and Why They’re My Priority

You may well think, why write about emotions?

Life with a lively young boy with Down’s Syndrome peppered with stubbornness and a good dose of physical strength makes for re-strategising on how to manage his behaviour, both of our emotions and ultimately maintain a happy and healthy relationship.

I believe that learning should take place all the time, even when JB is relaxing, I know his brain is processing something he has just learned. Our children learn by touch, hearing, smell, taste, movement, sensations and above all, seeing and being aware of the space around them and the people in it. If their senses are being stimulated most of their waking hours, their brain is making and establishing connections.

WP_20160330_20_54_35_Pro - Copy

However, if our children are not in an emotional learning state, none of this will be effective. Our children need extra minutes of input each day compared to the typical child in order to keep improving at a good rate, but at their rate. When I have managed to keep JB emotionally positive and feel he’s had a good variety of learning experiences during the day, I feel satisfied.

So, I know my child, what brings out the best in him and how best to deal with moments of challenging behaviour (although I am still learning here as well). I also have to ensure I am in an emotionally good place myself, and that JB is emotionally ready to learn.

If a child, and that means any child, is in a negative emotional state, he or she is not going to learn anything of great value. If a child is constantly being shouted at, humiliated or smacked, the brain responds in a very different way and essentially shuts down on all potentially good learning. Positive emotions do the opposite; they help each of us remember better to establish memories and enhance learning.

We are all exposed to situations that produce a variety of emotions all the time at home, and children have even more exposure at school. As a mother of a child with special needs, I have made it a personal obsession (a healthy one hopefully), to ensure my child deals with the uncontrolled negative emotions such as a death in the family and optimise on the positive ones.

On the topic of discipline, a child who experiences fear, the fear of threat, his brain will either be fighting it, running away from it or just taking it when confronted with it. A threat always takes priority in the recipients brain evoking a ‘survival’ response. Even threatening facial expressions are very effective in engaging the threat response (survival).  (Ohman, Flykr, & lundqvisit, 2000).

Violence causes the blood flow to decrease in many areas of the brain concerned with cognition. Studies on animals have revealed that threat damages the hippocampus and further fails to fully function for new learning in the short-term.


The Hippocampus is a small area inside the limbic region of the brain that forms, organises and stores new memories, connecting particular emotions and sensations to them. It is also crucial in processing spatial memories. Many of these memories are processed during sleep and so learning something before bedtime is useful as well as getting a good long nights sleep.

Distress has been shown to kill brain cells, decrease new brain cells produced, and long-term stress negatively affects moods, cognition, damages the hippocampus and frustrates the ability to prioritize. Stress also impairs verbal short-term memory and memory created through experiences such as events. (Lupien, Gillin & Hauger, 1999).

Positive Emotional States

There is an emotional state essential for all learning; the joy and pleasure state.

Why? Firstly, there is improved behaviour and judgement. The high release of dopamine during this emotional state means the brain has a far greater ability to perform well in executive attentional system. This takes place in the frontal lobe which helps significantly in school success as it deals with short-term memory, judgement and decision-making. The brain’s ability to focus and ignore distractions is also enhanced.

A Word on Dopamine

Dopamine is a chemical that transmits neural connections in the brain. It is linked to positive experiences and pleasure and is a vital element in the built-in reward system which cements our ability to predict and enjoy perceived rewards. Other positive evidence of dopamine includes enhancing our attentional systems to improve memory involving symbols, words, textbooks, video’s, computers, abstractions and written stories (semantic memories). Dopamine also plays a crucial part in spatial memory.  (Schultz, 2000) (Denenberg, Kim, & Palmiter, 2004; Tanaka, 2002).

The School

It is therefore a necessity as parents to ensure that our children experience these emotional states at home AND at school by following up each day on how happy our children were. And if necessary educating the teaching staff that this is vital for their learning from the time they start and during all the years of their schooling. When our children experience these positive emotions at school, they associate such feelings with learning, school, teachers and assistants. Beware of bullying in all its forms!

The Anticipation and Curiosity State

The anticipation and curiosity state causes increased motivation and the formation of new knowledge. This is a powerful teaching tool for teachers and parents alike.

Even if we’re not officially homeschooling our children, it is useful to know what can increase these emotional states. Chances are you already have them down pat, but here are a list of a few, for parents, teachers, aunties, siblings, granparents etc.:

1. Physical Activity – The chemical’s dopamine and norepinephrine are released during movement and enhance long-term memory when learning takes place, before, or after such activity. I have JB walk as much as possible, climb at the park and we dance at home as he loves music and this all helps keep his emotional state positive.

2. Interesting questions/statements – These should ideally evoke emotion, thus changing from a negative state to a positive one of eagerness.

3. Lots of Hugging – this is useful especially after you have disciplined your child. JB responds well to this when he has been disciplined or just when he’s feeling frustrated or upset for some reason. An experimental psychologist at the DePauw University, Indiana, Matt Hertenstein confirmed this through research and added that hugging stimulates the brain to release dopamine as well as decreasing the stress hormone cortisol. Touch also increases the release of the oxytocin which is a neuropeptide that produces feelings of bonding, trust and devotion.

Holding hands, hugging and especially therapeutic massage all release oxytocin. Sometimes our children act grumpy and just want to feel connected to us, and hugging them is all it may take to fix it. It sure works with JB!


A quick word on changing states. If a child is in a negative state, we as parents and educators need to ensure our children (all children) change to a positive one for learning effectively, as well as overall feelings of well-being and happiness. Usually the child may be upset about something and this requires an empathetic listener. Show them some understanding of how they feel and if this is recurring, help them to change their own emotional states in the future. Older children should learn and know how to do this themselves. We as adults have to do this frequently!

4. Enthusiastic One to One Face Dialogue – This is great for speech practice. I follow JB’s lead on this and we have lots of laughs!

5. Role Modelling – All adults involved with children should strive to be positive role models. Show love of learning, smile, build suspense, tell a true story, show enthusiasm about learning and teaching, read a book, explore nature together etc.

6. Rituals – Sing or play a song, do clapping patterns, cheer, play an instrument, dance..  at a particular time each day.

7. Personal Learning – Link any topic you’re teaching to the child’s personal life.

When we actively and consiously strive to maintain positive emotional states in our children as far as it is possible, much else seems to fall into place. By hepling them feel secure and bonded, they are better prepared to meet unexpected disappointments and deal with them rationally with support.

Remember, as I always try to… If I do my best, even if it’s not perfect (and it never usually is), then it’s GOOD ENOUGH…

…AND………….  have fun!

Love Cornelia xx

Speech, Language & Publications – What I’ve Learned

This blog comes after much procastination. Why? because it’s a huge topic and one that I am sure I will have to continue in some follow ups.

I was somewhat in denial and didn’t understand the extent of the great difficulties most children with T21 experience with speech and communication. I had met and briefly worked with a five year old child with T21 at the A.R.R.O.W. Centre who had just 3 or 4 spoken words and I assumed that he was the exception and no way was any child of mine going to have such limited speech at that age! I have been taken off my high horse since then and have learned to steadily work on this and accept the small slow progress.

The most difficult fact for me to digest is that JB has uttered words with perfection, but then somehow lost the ability to repeat them. So by the time I realised I needed some help in this vast and complicated area, JB was already 16 months old.

I will outline in chronological order what intervention he has had since then. Before I do, I would like to mention something crucial that I learned during this time; speech acquisition and language acquisition needs to be addressed as a whole, so understanding becomes a central part as the child grows and learns. This is all an extremely complex process and exposing our children to a variety of healthy environments with clear commentary is key to growth and communication.

From Birth – Books , books, books!!, self-voice recordings, rhymns and songs.

16 months – 1st Speech Therapist (3 months) I wasn’t entirely convinced with the effectiveness of her approach.

                      РFace to face speaking

                      Р2nd Speech Therapist (4 months) She was good and she gave me some *exercises to do at home with JB, after a while she seemed to run out of ideas and she was quite expensive.  

                      * Рface massage, inner mouth stimulation using biting implement and NUK brush. Blowing horns and harmonica.

                           Рface pulling and imitations, immitation of sounds, sign language

                           Рturn taking , lip smacking

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†–¬†increasing listening skills using as well as Self-Voice, music, specifically Vivaldi Winter, from the Four Seasons, Vivaldi Violin Concerto with two Violins and Strings ¬†in A and Guitar Concerto in C Major. These have been a valuable addition to JB’s life, he loves loves this music as well as other classical and loves to ‘play’ his guitar. These were recommended from another organisation that branched off from the Institutes of the Development of Human ¬†Potential.

                               Р3rd Speech Therapist (1 month) She was excellent but was brief because JB and I had to move to another area. She made me aware of the difference that a state paid professional gives their all, all knowlege, all time, all dilligence, all caring to her client. She helped me to understand that skills such as concentration are prerequisites to speech and so all areas of development need addressing for the child, not just focusing on the speech entirely. She was wonderful!

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†– 4th Speech Therapist (1 year and ongoing). Again, this woman is excellent. She doesn’t pretend to know it all and is dilligent, positive and thorough. She visits JB at his nursery and instructs the staff there what he needs and follows up with one to one sessions with him as well. She is clearly addressing development in many areas as well as speech sounds and overall communication.

SPEECH, I have learned during the last few years as complex as it is, requires a holistic approach including the speech focused therapies. Education and life skills are equally important so that when the speech does finally come, it can fit neatly into whatever he is doing in other areas without having to address all areas practically from scratch. Thinking, awareness and understanding as well as gross and fine motor skills all play an equal part.

A Breakdown

Here is what I have learned are essential:

talking in clear speech. 

no T.V.      

work on concentration

the Self-Voice    

taking turns using games, gestures and sounds

praise with big cheers and claps    

practice words by demonstrating words broken down into syllables  

exaggerate facial sound expressions to imitate      

feed the brain with good nutrition    

exercise regularly to get oxygen into the brain and stimulate other brain pathways

repeat words while playing games and playing in general  

set the example

sing and/or play songs repeatedly

pair movement with music

have fun and pace yourself

…and more recently, ¬†1) discovering other brain stimulation exercises such as walking up three steps, one foot per step, then down again without holding on, progressing to having eyes covered as he does this. ¬†2) spinning slowly anti-clockwise on a swivel chair…...



Early Communication Skills for Children with Down Syndrome by Libby Kuman. (There is alot of information in this book, but somehow too much and no explanations of why)

Fit Baby, Smart Baby, Your Baby! by Doman ¬†Take from this what you can. I love this book, but go with what your child enjoys doing and don’t be hard on yourself.

What to do About your Brain Injured Child by Doman  Again take what you can. I realised that this was too much for me to do alone and the Institutes also recommend these strategies to be used fully with full family support. I nearly burnt myself out on this one.

Kids Beyond Limits by Anat Baniel  Another book I loved. I use many simple everyday techniques from this one that I believe made a noticeable difference.

Montessori – The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard. A well explained book about the Montessori techniques with strong research evidence.

How to Teach Your Baby to Read by Doman A useful approach and one that I found helped JB to learn more words as he repeated the words when I read them out.

Is That My Child? by Robin Pauc Good information on diet and what a difference it makes to the developing child.

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge A fantastic insight on how plastic the brain is and gives hope to anyone.


..I will continue to follow up on ths topic as time goes on. To date JB has about 25-30 some clearly, some not so clearly spoken words in context. He can imitate many more and this is a repetitive ongoing work that he actually loves to do. He LOVES TO SPEAK, and this is great for both of us as we have daily word sessions using his word books as well as other objects and body parts.

If you want more feedback on the books I have recommended here, please let me know. These are just a few, I will give further recommendations as I continue.

Thanks for reading and I hope this is useful.

Best,  Cornelia xx