The Simple Modifications That Help My Son With Down Syndrome Learn

By Jody Henneman Hernandez: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Recently I learned an important lesson about making learning style modifications for people with developmental disabilities. During the summer, my son George who is 13 and has Down syndrome fractured his elbow. About a week after the cast was removed, he had several physical therapy sessions. On the first day, he was given some heating pad treatments and asked to bend and then straighten his elbow to test for range of motion.

“Bend your elbow as much as you can,” the therapist said.

“I can’t!” George immediately shouted. He had me convinced he couldn’t bend it.

“Pretend you’re eating an ice cream cone,” the physical therapist said.

Suddenly George’s arm bent as he moved his elbow. His hand went to his mouth and he pretended to lick the cone. Apparently he could do this task the whole time, but needed a more appealing prompt to motivate him.

“When you are asking him to do exercises, make it functional,” the therapist advised.

Rewording and role-play improved the outcome. It was like magic! Could all modifications be this easy? As a mom and also a teacher I know modifying can be a challenge. But I do believe some modifications can be really simple, like:

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