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I need help with actual, physically, looking/attending to the page

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    I need help with actual, physically, looking/attending to the page

    (Cross posted with the MP SC group on FB.)

    Kate (newly 7, doing SC C, and has Down syndrome) quite literally will not LOOK at whatever we are doing (unless it's a screen - sigh). Flashcards (which she loves), reading book, writing/math page, the camera. She won't make eye contact.

    We were trying to do school and her eyes/attention are ALL OVER THE PLACE. She won't look if I use my finger to point. She won't look if I use a colored pen/pencil to point. She won't look if I use her finger to point.

    Granted, some days are better than others. But on a whole it is a huge struggle (and picture taking is next to impossible). She wears glasses only for school work (and only because she has strabismus and the glasses are to help relax focus enough to prevent crossing). AD(H)D does seem to run in the family, though I'm not sure if I would consider her having it. I don't think she is on the spectrum, though she does have sensory issues when it comes to noise. She probably needs a huge reduction of media time (sigh ... with five kids, including an overly intense clingy toddler, there are many times I allow media just to get a break). What can I do to help encourage actual LOOKING and giving attention to what we are doing?
    Brit

    Catholic mom to five
    2019-2020:
    Ds '01 - College freshman: Thomas Aquinas College
    Ds '03 - 10th grade: MPOA Algebra 2, and a bunch of other stuff
    Ds '06 - 8th: MP Tiner science (chemistry, physics, and astronomy), 8M lit, 8M Exploring Planet Earth, ancient history, OLVS 8 Catechism
    Dd '10 (Down syndrome) - JrK with little brother and BOB books
    Ds '15 - JrK with big sister

    #2
    Re: I need help with actual, physically, looking/attending to the page

    As my daughter would say with great empathy, "Poor you!" You sound weary.

    Yes, the best thing for her is to work on eye contact with "live" objects and people, rather than gaze unblinkingly at screens.

    She will need to practice eye contact, but the good news is that it can be taught! Does one of your older children work well with her? Consider asking for some help.

    Some children with Down syndrome notoriously find it difficult to accomplish visual tasks most of us take for granted: visually following a referring gesture (e.g., pointing to something in a shared way), initiating or maintaining eye contact, focusing on small print.

    An older child, perhaps one interested in working with special needs in the future, can help you & your daughter.

    Some specific suggestions:

    -Ball Time
    Exchange that eyes-open-blank-staring screen time for daily "Ball Time." With the older child (or yourself) facing your daughter, bounce-pass, toss & catch, or, if needed, seated-straddle-roll a ball back and forth. Count how many times successfully passed, chant the alphabet or other school-related practice, or otherwise include language to hold attention and double the "workout." You will work on those delayed motor skills, oral language, and memory, while pairing the large, attractive ball with the older child's encouraging face to practice eye contact.

    -Enlarge the Print
    She may love flash cards, especially the newer MP Phonogram cards, because they are larger. Some children with Down syndrome have significant difficulties focusing. Keep print large, use thick or colored markers to show her where to begin, and do not expect that she will follow the typical-child's cue of merely pointing. The subject matter may need to "pop" for her to attend.

    -Have her Point
    Instead of your pointing with her finger or any other tool, which she may not yet be developmentally ready to follow, have her point. "Point to the 'C.'" Or, where possible, "Color the 'C' red." This will force her eyes to travel to the card, if only briefly.

    -Face Her
    When you teach your other children, you might sit side-by-side. With Kate, face her. Teach "upside down" for yourself, just beneath your own exaggerated (if happy and encouraing ) facial expressions.

    -Refresh Her Eye Exam
    Some children with Down syndrome have various visual difficulties not limited to refractory. For example, some have accommodation difficulties and may even benefit from bifocals. If you can find a pediatric ophthalmologist specializing in children with Down syndrome, you may be able to help her with focusing, accommodations, and more. Now might be a good time to double check to see if they are missing anything.

    -And yes, Limit Screens
    Her eyes may need a break. You want to reserve her best, focused visual time for your schoolwork and her own play. Have a more physically-minded child take her for a walk, to the park, or outside to play. He/she might teach her to "stretch her eyes" by gazing far away at the clouds to see shapes in them.

    -Encourage Gently-Visual Leisure
    Rather than placing her in front of close screens, perhaps someone might help her make a nature collage (gently visual) with items she spots herself. On cold days, see if she might like to listen to books or those SC C CDs while playing with playdough, painting, working large puzzles, or playing with toys you rotate to maintain novelty.


    Overall, it sounds like it might be time to enlist some help from the older children, a neighbor child, your husband, a girl from church, etc. I remember when I was at a loss to help my daughter enjoy science. It was the first time I enlisted my son to become her "tutor." He loved the role, rose to the occasion, and she attended far better to his lessons.

    Comment


      #3
      Re: I need help with actual, physically, looking/attending to the page

      As always, Cheryl, you are a voice of reason when I see only overwhelmingness. I printed your reply and play on talking with the big boys and my husband about a game plan. I take our 14 year old back to the ophthalmologist in three months (I know the office sees children with Ds though I'm not sure how many), and share my concerns with him. Thus far he seems pleased with her tracking ... her glasses do reduce the amount of crossing her eye (sometimes eyes, but usually her left) does when focusing up close. But we haven't addressed before the lack of looking at something in particular before.
      Brit

      Catholic mom to five
      2019-2020:
      Ds '01 - College freshman: Thomas Aquinas College
      Ds '03 - 10th grade: MPOA Algebra 2, and a bunch of other stuff
      Ds '06 - 8th: MP Tiner science (chemistry, physics, and astronomy), 8M lit, 8M Exploring Planet Earth, ancient history, OLVS 8 Catechism
      Dd '10 (Down syndrome) - JrK with little brother and BOB books
      Ds '15 - JrK with big sister

      Comment


        #4
        Re: I need help with actual, physically, looking/attending to the page

        You are welcome. Ask specifically about her "accommodation" too, as in the article I posted to you on SC FB.

        Comment


          #5
          Re: I need help with actual, physically, looking/attending to the page

          Hi there. Hope it's okay to chime in here. You have wonderful advice from Cheryl.

          Just wondering....is your home situated in such a way as to have a distraction-free, sensory-free place within which to do her schooling? When there's not much else to look at but YOU and what you are trying to use to educate her, you might have a bit more success. I encountered what you are describing with my younger son for years (not wanting to focus his vision on what I was trying to do with him) but I did have success when we'd go to a quiet place (a room) that didn't have much else beyond simple furniture.

          SusanP

          Comment


            #6
            Re: I need help with actual, physically, looking/attending to the page

            Originally posted by SPearson View Post
            Hi there. Hope it's okay to chime in here. You have wonderful advice from Cheryl.

            Just wondering....is your home situated in such a way as to have a distraction-free, sensory-free place within which to do her schooling? When there's not much else to look at but YOU and what you are trying to use to educate her, you might have a bit more success. I encountered what you are describing with my younger son for years (not wanting to focus his vision on what I was trying to do with him) but I did have success when we'd go to a quiet place (a room) that didn't have much else beyond simple furniture.

            SusanP
            I'm all for suggestions, so thank you for chiming in! I wish we had the space our house. I've debated getting those presentation tri-fold boards just to simulate a sensory/distraction free area. I have moved our school area from the living room (we were working at a small table where she could sit nicely) to the kitchen table (we have the Trip-Trap chairs so she can still practice good posture). It's not overly busy in there, but small house and a lot of people makes it hard to find many spaces where she won't be distracted. But you do have me thinking now about getting a tri-fold board and seeing if it helps direct her attention a bit better.
            Brit

            Catholic mom to five
            2019-2020:
            Ds '01 - College freshman: Thomas Aquinas College
            Ds '03 - 10th grade: MPOA Algebra 2, and a bunch of other stuff
            Ds '06 - 8th: MP Tiner science (chemistry, physics, and astronomy), 8M lit, 8M Exploring Planet Earth, ancient history, OLVS 8 Catechism
            Dd '10 (Down syndrome) - JrK with little brother and BOB books
            Ds '15 - JrK with big sister

            Comment

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