Inspiring stories from parents of children with Down syndrome
Earlier this month, we introduced the new Down Syndrome Daily Support Bundle and shared our new 10-page guide “Using Signing Time with Children who have Down Syndrome” (click on Details tab to download). Since that time, we’ve been receiving emails from parents of children with Down syndrome who have told us about the impact Signing Time has had on their child’s life. We felt so inspired by these moms’ stories that we just had to share them with you, with their permission, of course! 🙂 We hope these heartwarming stories bring a smile to your faces, just as it did to ours.
Dear Signing Time,
I have a 4.9 year old son named Nathan who was born with Down syndrome. Since Nathan was 4 months old, he has been around the “average” child at my preschool, where I worked as a teacher. He has learned all of the typical preschooler things and I was indeed a very proud mother. However, I did notice one flaw: Nathan couldn’t verbally express himself and this caused him to show little interest in playing games and such with the other children. As time went on, Nathan had begun lessons with his speech therapist twice a week, but he would get so frustrated when she tried to get him to enunciate words when role playing, Nathan didn’t want to take part. In fact, Nathan showed no interest at all, and his tantrums worsened over time.
Months slowly passed by, and I realized that after 14 years of teaching preschoolers, that my time was over, and starting a new path would really be best for my son. It became very important for me to help my son overcome his stress of not being able to fully communicate his wants and needs. So after a long journey of teaching, I decided to resign as a preschool teacher, and home-school my only child. (My heart skipped a beat, just going back to that time. But thankfully I made the right decision).
When our official school days began in August of 2009, I tried teaching him the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes and manners, but he would only be interested if I sang educational songs. Nathan did not care to do learning sheets, or hold a crayon, or paintbrush; these things didn’t interest him any. He enjoyed finger-play, music, loud and fun games. I became frustrated because teaching with songs, worksheets, crayons, paints, etc., was all I ever knew how to do. So I did what any woman of faith would, I prayed and with tears, I closed my eyes and asked God how can I help my son speak. And miraculously I heard God clearly say “Teach him sign language”. Then a huge feeling of peace came over me. I knew, in my heart that ASL would be a great way to help my son.
I went online and found some sign language videos. One of them showed a woman with a bright yellow shirt who was singing either the “Pizza Song” or “Colors of the Rainbow”, and my son ran to the kitchen to see what the loud noise was. My son stared closely at Rachel and loved her. He sat through the whole video and after he looked at me and signed “more” (his DT showed him more in ASL when he was a year old). So I found more videos of Signing Time and he stared at the computer longer than before. My son was happy and loved Rachel. This was a progress!
After doing some background research on Rachel and read how the family learned of Leah’s deafness at around 18 months, I felt a connection with Rachel. My son could not hear at birth and even failed his first hearing test at a few months old. The doctors had to surgically install tubes in his ears to reduce leakage backup. This was quite a scary time for us…he was under anesthesia and also had a 0.5 cyst removed from his uvula at only 8 months old. So, I felt like I could relate to Rachel and trust that she has the best interest for kids in mind.
We bought our first video “Sing and Sign”, and it was a family hit. Nathan just kept on smiling and dancing. He was a happy little boy, one who was more focused, sitting longer and ready for more songs and signs using his hands. I had the best feeling in the world of success. And, of course, I began purchasing Signing Time books, flashcards, posters and more videos. My son can sign about every word he has sees on them! I am so excited and look forward to hearing my son speak and as well sign his feelings in complete sentences.
Here are some video clips of Nathan to show you how signing is working for him:
How awesome, awesome and, (did I say awesome?) this line of products was for my son. Thank you Rachel, Leah, Alex and Team for taking the time out to care for not only your family, but ours. God bless you all!
Jersey City, NJ
Dear Signing Time,
My son, Sam, is currently 5. We started using Signing Time when he was a baby. He did not show interest until he was around a year old. One day we were sitting at his sisters Gymnastics class, waiting and he became restless. I asked him what he wanted and he babbled to me. I asked again, he signed and said “cracker”. This was the first time he put together the concept of signing to communicate!
He took off learning signs, could not get enough. He is now very verbal and remembers most of his signs.
I also credit Signing Time with helping Sam learn to read. I think that connecting the concept of knowing that signs mean words, helped him connect the concept of letters and written words, too. I hope that made sense. Sam still asks to watch Signing Time on a regular basis. His favorites are ABC Signs and all episodes talking about animals.
Dear Signing Time,
Our son, Ian, has Down syndrome and is 33 months old. Ian has been watching Signing Time since 6 months old. He signs everything and absolutely loves every video, every song, Rachel, Leah, Alex, Hopkins, everything about Signing Time. He asks for ‘Signing Time’, sings the songs, and smiles the most beautiful smile every time.
He learned all zoo animals, farm animals, family members, foods, ABCs, bugs, colors, manners, SO, SO MUCH from watching Signing Time. As a family we had Signing Time songs and videos as one of our main ‘healing tools’ in the beginning. The inspiring example of Rachel and her family of how to face and serve through the experience of leaving with disabilities was just a blessing for our lives as parents.
Today Ian is starting to speak, and he is doing wonderful. Slowly he is fading the use of signs to communicate but the Signing Time videos are still very important for firming up and teaching new vocabulary. Instead of watching TV he watches Signing Time (and other communication oriented videos such as reading, etc). We just bought ‘Welcome to School’ and ‘Nice to Meet You’ videos and we plan to buy more Signing Time videos now that he is starting preschool.
It feels like Rachel and her family are part of our family. We love the whole Signing Time family…and we feel loved by them. Yesterday we went to the MDSC Buddy Walk in Wakefield, MA, and met Rachel in person for the first time. We chatted for a couple of minutes, gave a big hug, and took a picture. We were so thrilled, and she was exactly like we thought she would be: natural, simple, great.
Thank you so very much for this beautiful work.
Maria Thompson, Ph.D.