The Power of Ability: Recognizing Down Right Exceptional Organizational Skills

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The Power of Ability: Recognizing Down Right Exceptional Organizational Skills 


     Recently I went to our local Goodwill store to see two former students hard at work. They had invited me to see them at work. One of these girls was stocking donated books and carefully putting them on a shelf. I knew this was the perfect place for this girl to work. When she was in my class it was important to have all her school supplies neatly lined up at her desk. She is getting close to the end of her school career, and I can see her thrive in a job that requires attention to detail and organization. Read her mother’s answers on my blog questionnaire and discover some resources for parents of children with Down syndrome.

     The mother of another girl with Down syndrome recently said, “Don’t pigeonhole them.” Kids with any disability are so much more than their diagnosis, and you can’t stereotype any child. Just because this girl has Down syndrome, don’t make the mistake of painting a picture of an outgoing, friendly child. Every child with Down syndrome is different, and this girl has her strengths of organization, connecting with her pets, doing art projects, and loving music. She does not like big crowds, being the center of attention, or loud places. You have met other children who love to be center stage, love a crowd, and be the life of the party. It shows that everyone has their likes and dislikes and we should embrace those differences. Read this mom’s answers and appreciate the power of ability.  


Q: What is one thing you wish teachers know about your child that is not on the IEP?
A: I feel that her IEP has a very good picture of who she is at this point

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: Her organizational and detail skills

Q: How important is homework for your child? Is it just a burden, or is it a helpful learning tool?
A: Repetition is definitely good as is spreading skills over different environments, however, her stamina is limited. So I would have to say that homework is not helpful, however practice sheets to work on over summer break definitely are.

Q: How old was your child when you first knew he/she had special needs?
A: at birth

Q: What is one piece of advice you have for someone who has a newly diagnosed child?
A: Find other parents with children with the same diagnosis and get to know them and their families. They will be a great resource for many years.

Q: What is one meal that everyone in your family likes to eat?
A: Who can turn down every kid’s favorite: chicken nuggets and french fries – although totally not healthy!

Q: What advice do you have for interacting with children with special needs?
A: Be patient, give them all the time that they need to express their thoughts, do not rush their responses, and give them time to express their concerns.

Q: What activities do you recommend to other parents to foster self-care?
A: Offer full support in the beginning and then slowly back off support little by little. Baby Steps!

Q: Are there any support groups that you recommend for parents or children?
A: In our case, it is the Down Syndrome Assoc of Northeast Ohio (DSANO) (formerly the Upside of Downs) along with several online newsletters from national DS and Intellectual Disabilities Organizations

Q: What are your favorite family activities?
A: Playing Games, Watching Movies, and Going on Walks


     This girl was quiet and shy but loved talking about her family and always gave me big hugs. When I saw her working at Goodwill, she told me her Mom’s birthday would be soon. This job is a great fit for her and her organizational skills. It was evident that she loved to organize things, even in middle school. Her mom has some sage advice to offer when she says to be patient and give them all the time they need to express their thoughts. This girl was very empathetic to the needs of others, and giving her time to express her concerns was valuable advice. Mom states that while repetition is good, learned skills should be spread over different environments. I am happy that the skills she learned in middle school have carried over to her job training program. She can thrive, and the future looks bright for this sweet girl. Down syndrome does not define her, and this sweet girl has a lot to contribute.