Sunday, 23 August 2009

World Down Symposium - Dublin

What a wonderful event. People came half way across the world to exhibit posters and tell people of their research experiences. There were experts from every corner of the earth sharing knowledge.
I went with Caroline Newton from Orston and Marie Nicholson from Flintham. They head up the Nottinghamshire Down Support Group and are co workers in speech and language therapy with Symbol UK. Together we put in The Listening training Programme with nine Down children and saw them all improve in speech, listening and communication. We went to disseminate that information to other parents so their children could benefit. There is no cash benefit in doing this for any of us but, it helps the children, so we wanted to get it out there to people and a lot of people showed interest.
Early intervention in all areas, medical, speech and language, motor skills plus and so many people are working to bring this about. They are looking to realise the potential of these children because lifespan has increased to 66 years plus. The message was clear that these children have potential but, it takes more effort for them to realise it.
Most of the people there had connection or family with Down Syndrome so they think in terms of this group but, I deal with all children and I found so much which was applicable to children generally if they are to go on to achieve what they should.
One lecture I was especially keen to get to was that of David Hingsburger, an extra included by request, on Bullying. This is a problem throughout schools and our strategies do not seem to work even if we pretend that they do. We tell children to ignore bullies and quote the old adage 'sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me' but words do hurt and damage the recepient. He advocated honouring children who came with their tales of bullying and giving some little insight into a personal experience of their own, so children did not see it as just an attack on them due to their disability . He then got them to chant and clap a saying 'I am OK , they are mean' as a way of coping with the experience so they were not damaged by it inside themselves. He is working on strategies to help with this. This man describes himself as 'a fat guy in a wheelchair' but he speaks with passion , in down to earth terms, dealing with problems that most shy away from. It is a pity his lecture is not a compulsory constituent of teacher television because no words from me can adequately convey his message.
I met so many wonderful people out there , who are working to benefit children so they can cope in the outside world. One had a kinaesthetic method for children to use with mathematics and another had a solution to handling cash. All good to know about.
The UN are bringing out a policy to outlaw discrimation against the intellectually disabled and apparently the UK has already signed up for this. Ways have to be found so that we are a more inclusive society to improve the quality of life all round. Personally I took the son of one of my colleagues to a pub for chicken nuggetes and chips. They wanted us to go in the lounge but he wanted to be by the TV screen so they let us be in the bar with the screen. They were just ordinary guys out for a pint at their local but they could not have been kinder. They gave him a drink with ice but as soon as they realised he did not want ice it was gone. They came over to chat with him and asked about the football gear he was wearing. All of the men there were attentive to him. There are a lot of good people about.