Wednesday, June 22, 2011


These aren't just funky blue insoles to make Matt's shoes look hip. These insoles have given Matt the gift of stability. He was fitted with them at the end of April and in these last few weeks we have seen a real improvement in Matt's walking, jumping, running, stair-climbing and his general ability to remain upright and not stumble. It has been fun watching him confidently approach steps. He now loves jumping - he will bounce around the house with much laughter. His confidence in running has meant increased enjoyment of ball games with dad.

Matt's orthotist has a very impressive electronic mat that can sense the way in which someone walks. He gets Matt to run over it a couple of times, and then his computer shows exactly how Matt is overstepping on the inside or outside of his foot, and which part of this foot he uses in the different moments of his stride. That way he can create an insole that best supports Matt's foot. In addition the orthotist provides an extensive follow up, making alternations if necessary - each time checking how Matt's feet are working using his electronic mat thing. I am not sure if I explained it all clearly and correctly- but it was really impressive. And it has made such a noticeable difference in Matt's stability.

Thanks to Matt's physio, Pam, who recommended we pursue this for Matt.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Teach reading to teach talking

One of the exciting things that we came across at the RTS Conference was from our short clinc session with a Dutch Speech Therapist who has worked with a number of different RTS kiddies. She has found that there are similarities between RTS and Down syndrome kiddies in terms of learning speech. And therefore techniques to support kids with Down syndrome have proved helpful to RTS kids.

Teaching reading to teach talking is probably the single most effective intervention for helping children with Down syndrome to overcome their learning difficulties. Quote Sue Buckley and Gillian Bird 

From what I understood is that the emphasis should be on helping Matt recognise the whole word, as opposed to first getting to know the letter sounds and then building those up to words. As he learns to recognise and read words, she reckons, his speech will benefit.

This ST recommended that we start a book with Matt where he participates in it's development. On each page we draw a picture that he has expressed interest in, and then write the word below it, as well as a sentence of 3 or 4 words. Basically this will be the level of his understanding, not his expressive language. As he helps create the book, the topics should inspire him and capture his attention. The benefit will come from repeated reading and seeing the words. 

I am still learning the mechanisms and process of how teaching reading supports kids in learning to talk. Here are some useful links on the topic:

We got started right away, even though we were still on our trip. We talked to Matt about what he had seen during the day and created our little "book" out of a note pad. We have since put the pages into a file with some photos prints to add more fun to the story telling. Matt has really taken to it and we read this "book" whenever he wants. I hope to start on a 2nd book - focussing more on his day to day experiences.