Nothing Down About It: Championing and Shining on Her Abilities


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Nothing Down About It: Championing and Shining on Her Abilities

    The heart is a perfect picture for this girl who was once my student because she loves life! I see her continue to thrive because we live in the same community. She always hugs me when I see her, and we have a great conversation. As a high school student, she has cheered at football games as a Sparkle cheerleader, always with a big smile on her face. She participates in the Best Buddies after-school program and has played in Miracle League baseball for many years. Read her mother’s valuable insights. She is a joyful, friendly girl, and I feel blessed to have been her middle school teacher. She loved to dance then, and now dances to Taylor Swift tunes, listening to music with a smile.

Q: What is one thing you wish teachers know about your child that is not on the IEP?
A: I wish they knew how compassionate she was towards her family at home. Natalia may come across sometimes as stubborn and set in her ways to some, but at home, she likes to make sure she helps around the house. She will get her brother’s lunch ready or his clothes laid out for school. She will start washing dishes (sometimes) or fold some laundry without me asking. She is just like everyone else. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes that teachers don’t see. Natalia also loves karaoke and music. You can always catch her dancing to some Taylor Swift!!
Q: Scores on tests do not define the child. What is something your child is really good at that is not reflected on tests?
A: Natalia really loves to read!
Q: How important is homework for your child? Is it just a burden, or is it a helpful
learning tool?
A: Some homework is ok, but I do notice some frustration with it. She works very hard all day at school. I feel once at home she needs that time to unwind.
Q: How old was your child when you first knew he/she had special needs?
A: The day she was born.
Q: What is one piece of advice you have for someone who has a newly diagnosed
A: Being scared of the unknown is a completely normal feeling to have.  Just love your child without limits and before you know it personalities start to surface and then you can’t imagine life without them !! There is NOTHING Down about it!!
We are #TheLuckyFew >>> !!!
Q: What is one meal that everyone in your family likes to eat?
A: We love Taco’s …..and Pasta!!!
Q: What advice do you have for interacting with children with special needs?
A: Talk to them as you would anyone else. Sometimes communication can be a barrier, but that does not mean they don’t understand you. And always BE KIND!
Q: What activities do you recommend to other parents to foster self-care?
A: Networking with other parents who are in similar situations. The DSANEO has Mom and Dad’s Nights out.
Q: Are there any support groups you recommend for parents or children?
A: The Best Buddies Friendship Walk, which is a great way to make new friends, and The Lucky Few Foundation, which is a great storytelling resource about other families and inclusion.
Q: What are your favorite family activities?
A: We love to go on walks and hikes. We love the beach and swimming. And board games

     There are two great resources from this mom. I did not know about the Lucky Few Foundation. Click on the link to read about it. The Best Buddies program is a great one that I know about, and I am happy this girl is involved. A teacher I worked with started the program at the middle school level, and two sisters of a girl with Down syndrome started the chapter at the high school. The Best Buddies program is an international organization founded in 1989 and the four mission pillars are: one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living. The high school chapter meets monthly to do social events with peers with and without disabilities. They’ve done events like painting pumpkins, creating socks for Down syndrome awareness day, making friendship bracelets, and more. It helps to promote acceptance within our schools. The group is open to anyone with or without a disability. All that is needed is a willingness to be a friend.

     The light continues to shine brightly for this young lady and the future will be filled with sunshine and happiness. She loves to be a helper and loves to meet new people. She loves music and dancing. If you are lucky enough to meet this girl, take time to have a conversation with her. You will find a joyful, caring girl who will make you smile and warm your heart!