Georgia Production Helps Special Needs Children by Empowering Parents
Special needs children can often benefit from speech therapy, including those with Down syndrome (DS). Down syndrome can significantly impact a child’s language skills, particularly in terms of his ability to express himself and understand language. Speech therapy techniques can greatly help a child with Down syndrome learn to communicate more effectively. But it’s also important not to neglect the caregivers of special needs children. As a caregiver, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or burned out, whether you’re caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or you’re trying to coax a child with Down syndrome to say a word. Empowering parents and caregivers is a necessary component of a treatment program for special needs children.
Yvonne Pierre is the mother of a boy with Down syndrome. This Georgia woman recognized the need to empower parents, and she made a powerful contribution to the field with her play, “Then You Stand.” Pierre wrote and directed the stage production, which is based in Georgia and explores the complexities of the discovery that an unborn child has DS.
Georgia Stage Production – “Then You Stand”
When you’re trying to get pregnant, seeing that blue line for a positive test result can be one of the most indescribably joyful moments of your life. But how should you feel if your doctor informs you that your unborn baby will be born with Down syndrome? Writer, producer, and director Yvonne Pierre explores the issue through the lens of a newlywed couple, Jason and Mona. The couple is excited when they learn that they are pregnant, but their relationship and core beliefs are severely strained when they discover that their child will be born with Down syndrome.
Ultimately, Jason and Mona learn to lean on each other and accept their child’s differences. In an interview, Yvonne Pierre stated that she expected each attendee to take away something different from the play, but she hoped to instill the overriding message that it is possible to rise above obstacles, no matter how insurmountable they appear. Pierre also stated, “If a parent doesn’t believe in or has lost hope for their child or themselves, then they will not push to get the help needed for that child to reach their full potential. I believe that in order to reach the child, the parents must be empowered.”
All Proceeds Benefit DS Research
In addition to uplifting parents and caregivers, Yvonne Pierre has lent her powerful voice to supporting Down syndrome research. All proceeds from the stage production benefitted Emory Down Syndrome Research, part of Atlanta-based Emory University of Medicine. Emory DS Research hopes to determine how an extra chromosome develops, whether any environmental factors play a role, and what interventions may be helpful.
Although there is no cure for Down syndrome, intervention programs can be helpful. Regular check-ups can screen for medical problems that special needs children with DS are prone to developing. Because DS can severely inhibit communication, children should work with a speech-language pathologist (SLP). An SLP can help those with speech delays to communicate effectively in nonverbal manners. Speech therapists can also help the child improve his grammar and overcome articulation difficulties. Speech Buddies in particular can help a child with Down syndrome learn proper articulation for specific sounds. A Speech Buddy provides a target within the mouth so that the child can learn proper tongue placement for each sound.