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Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Ian and Sierra experience what writing is like for a child with Down syndrome.

Tiffany Brown’s Kindergarten class had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. and Mrs. Maddex to their classroom on October 12, 2010.  Their special visit was to bring awareness to Down syndrome, which has personally touched their family.  

Ian Maddex, who is a student in Tiffany Brown’s class, and his family know first hand the rewards and challenges of Down syndrome.  Ian’s brother, Chase, who attends Waxhaw Elementary Schools Preschool program has Down syndrome.

Mrs. Maddox shared the book, Hi, I’m Ben…And I Have a Secret by Julie A. Bouwkamp.  She further shared that kids who have Down syndrome have weak muscle tone, almond shape eyes, short fingers and sometimes have difficulty speaking clearly.  

Ian assisted his parents on Tuesday by sharing about his brother and modeling what it is like to speak and write like a child who has Down syndrome.  

Each of Ian’s classmates put 2 mini-marshmallows in their mouth and spoke to a partner to seen the challenges that can face a child with Down syndrome.  Then with their partner they took turns writing their name with a sock on their hand so they could experience the difficulty Chase might have as he is learning to write. Seth Barnes said, “It was harder to write with the sock on.”

Mrs. Maddox taught the children about chromosomes and how Chase’s are different.  Chase has 47 chromosomes, 1 extra, compared to all of you, said Maddox.  She explained that each cell in our body has 46 chromosomes and they like to stand next to a partner.  She showed the class 2 students standing back to back linked at the elbows as a visual aid.  

Since Chase has one extra chromosome in each cell it is like 3 children standing back-to-back link at the elbows.  

Most importantly, the students learned that children with Down syndrome are more alike than different when comparing them to other children.  They love to run, play, create and participate in all activities that children do everyday.  They have very few limitations and adapt as we do when we encounter something challenging.

At the conclusion of this special part of our day we asked some questions.  Mitch Ferguson asked, “Does Down syndrome travel around the body?”  Mrs. Maddox explained that Down syndrome is just a part of Chase.  It stays inside him and it can’t be given to other kids that he plays with.  I asked Ian, “What is your favorite part of having a brother like Chase?”  Ian said, “He always likes to play with me.”

You can find more information on Down syndrome.

Written by: Tiffany Brown, Kindergarten Teacher
Posted: Oct 13, 2010 by Kimberly Thomas

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