While some dreaded the cold days of February, many cheered with celebration as GiGi’s Playhouse Twin Cities officially opened its doors on February 9. For families affected by Down syndrome in the Twin Cities, GiGi’s Playhouse is a welcome network of support, play groups and educational opportunities for children, siblings, adults and the community. They provide therapeutic activities to encourage speech- language development, fine motor skills, gross motor, math and literacy.
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.
This week, Laura of Down Syndrome – Up Up Up and Away! is sharing her family’s story of life with Down syndrome (DS). DS can cause a range of physical and cognitive symptoms, including speech and language delays. Laura’s daughter K has Trisomy 21, which means that there is an extra copy of chromosome 21. Like other special needs children, K has more than proven that she can flourish with the proper therapies and treatments. Not only did K begin reading before she was 2 years old, she also began reading new books by the time she was 3 1/2. Laura also points out that for the typical special needs child, reading is a visual form of speech, and it can positively impact verbal communication.