2013 Puget Sound Buddy Walk

All I think I need to do is play the video…  We are so proud of her.  We gave her a questionnaire to fill out to help her focus her speech.  She answered the questions, then we put it into Keynote as a prompt for the performance!  She practiced at school, even with the speech path…  Here is it is:

Here is the text from her speech too:

Hey guys thanks for supporting the buddy walk cause, this means a lot to me
I know that this is a big deal for me.  I have never done this before.  This is my first time speaking in public.

Hi I’m Devon,
I am a 17 year old junior at Nathan Hale High School.
I am a cheerleader a skier and I have Down syndrome

The most important thing in my life is not giving up, it is also the hardest thing.

I love being a high school student because I love learning.
My favorite things to learn this year are Ecology and writing for the year book.

I love math as well, but sometimes its the hardest one for me to do.

Part of why I love the yearbook is that I love writing
I feel like writing is in my blood.
I can express my feelings and myself more clearly through writing.

Every day after school I write in my journal and it makes me feel special and confident.

My mom made me write about myself for our website, then my language arts teacher made me read and write poems. 
Writing poetry helped me find my passion.

When I’m done with college I want to write for a living.
Books or stories, poems or plays, I don’t know yet.

When I’m not writing I love cheerleading with my friends and playing piano
    Cheering with my friends makes me feel like I belong at Nathan Hale High     School and being accepted for who I am.
    My love for piano started with my great grandmother.  She’s the reason why I     wanted to play piano.  When I play piano it makes me feel like she is right beside     me playing playing piano next to me.

People don’t always understand when I speak, but they understand when I play piano or write.

Love yourself, be yourself, follow your passion.
No one can stop you from dreaming, no one can stop you from growing.

We are like sunflowers basking in the light and constantly growing.
The more we dream the more we grow and touch other lives.
We can touch millions if we try.
There are opportunities in front of you, you just have to believe to make it true.

She is amazing!

Thanks for watching!



Help with #*?# Math…

Dev smiling for the camera

Dev smiling for the camera

Wow, what a way to come home…  I was at a school meeting last night for Dev’s younger brother.  He just started 6th grade Band, so I had to go the the introduction meeting.  I left Dev and her brother home with dinner and a schedule.  Dad was still at the office, but hopefully home before me.  It is the first week of school so they have homework, but not too much…

When I came in Dad, brother and Dev are around the dinning table doing brothers math (an assessment to see where the kids are at).  There was some basic algebra written in a way that Dev was familiar with, but brother was not…  So Dev got to be the teacher for MATH–actually for ALGEBRA!  She was So Proud!

So Math has not been a bad subject for Dev but not a great one either.  She started with “touch math” (which is the way I think I was taught way back when) for addition and subtraction.  Her visual memory made multiplication facts and fact families not so bad either.  She will even to XtraMath for fun!  Her brother was introduced to this webpage last year and it has been fun–here is the link:  xtramath

xtramath--a great webpage for math facts

xtramath–a great webpage for math facts

Doing some word problems on paper and ,as her brother discovered, some algebra is also a skill Dev has… But…

Money makes the world go round...

Money makes the world go round…

The never ending money issue is still there.  Dev and a friend went to the movies.  I went with to the ticket counter so I could attempt to make it a teachable moment…  The ticket was $9.50.  Dev had a $10 and a $20 bill.  She could not figure out how much to pay or how much change she would get back with either transaction….  Somehow I have to figure out how to get the math off the paper and into real life issues.  I know it has to be practice, practice, practice.

I guess I need to put into action a money system at home…  maybe I can use real money and pay her for chores and she has to pay for meals or screen time….  Has anyone done this?  I do not want it to be her allowance or money she gets to keep, more like play money for the practice….  I think I’ll try it!  If you have experience PLEASE let me know!




Proud Mama

I am a mid westerner at heart.  Kind, thoughtful, reserved…  So being at a cheer leader camp is a little out of my comfort zone…  450 plus high school cheer leaders, coaches, leadership staff and the National Cheer Association staff all in one gym is a little beyond my normal tolerance for “HAPPY”… But…  It is amazing!

I can not believe Dev is able to learn so many cheers/chants, dances.  Each day they are taught a new cheer and chant that they then perform in the evening.  Here is Wednesdays:

She just learned that routine that morning, and they just added positioning in the afternoon and the “We R Nathan Hale” transition about 5 min before performing!  All of the girls are amazing, and so is Dev!  I know I would have trouble learning it, then performing it!  I am so impressed!

She is a born Cheer Leader!

The girls on her team are great.  They give her a little leeway but know to stagger (place her in the line up) her so she can keep up with the routine.  They work to her strengths.  They invite her to sit at the table, they invited her to stay in the dorm room, they help with her hair in the morning and she feels/is included.



Denver! Part one the Round Table

“WoW” is still where I am about the convention and it has been a week.

The Denver Convention Center

The Denver Convention Center

We have never been to the National Down Syndrome Congress convention before.  We have chugged along in our own world and I think we have done pretty well.  Dev knows she has DS, but we don’t really ever talk about it.  It has not been a pro or a con, just “is” in our lives.

Being at the conference Dev (and I) had a lot of fun, but she (and I) also had a bit of a reality check.

We started at the Medical Round Table hosted by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.

What an amazing amount of work they have done in a relatively short amount of time.  They started with 2 labs and now have 16 working on the basic science of DS.  Lots of cool stuff coming out in genetics and biochemistry.

I was amazed at the notes Dev took, 5 pages of tiny writing (I need to take a picture of them).  My favorite is from the Alzheimer’s panel, the parting words were that environment still made a huge difference in the presentation of the disease.  It was a picture of 2 mouse houses, one with toys, exercise equipment and good food, the other with just the mouse.  Dev made quick sketches of each and captioned each with the sentiment: happy, active= no Alzheimer’s, board, lonely=Alzheimer’s.

I think we all fear AD, so adding it to the DS world is overwhelming, but I have hope that the science with help all of us as time goes on.

Science is also working hard figuring out the brain chemistry of learning, memory and the like.  If there was a pill that would improve Dev’s cognition would I give it to her?  If it made reading/math and life skills easier, why not….  Would it change her personality…  make her less positive, or empathetic or hard working… I would hope not…

There are so many questions and lots of different answers.  For Science to help answer some of the questions we need more research….  We need to be active in getting a registrar so we can have the information.  We need to fund the labs.  We need to be a voice for what we want… We need to go to more conventions, move out of our comfort zones and work together to find some answers before the “other” science removes DS from the human population…

Tell me what you think…




Sean and I are blessed to have 3 wonderful kids.  Parenting is the hardest job ever.  Most of us when we think about having kids we only think of the baby.  We do not think about “tweens” frustrations or adolescence rebellion.

Our oldest will be off to college this fall and our youngest moved out of elementary and will start middle school in the fall as well.  Dev our middle will stay in high school, starting her junior year…  So we’ve been parents for a little while and yet have a long way to go.

Open Heart, Open Mind

Growing up…

So when Dev gave me this poem/note last night it helps to keep your strength up.

Never Gonna Stop Me Now
by Devon Adelman

When I was little I always wanted
To be a zookeeper.
But as I grew older I wanted
To be a writer so I can express
My feelings and to show them the real me.

I always had my parents by my side
they taught me To stand on my own
to believe
I love my parents with all of my heart
Because they have been there for me
Whenever I feel sad they always cheer me up
When I have problems they help me
Also when I feel afraid of something they taught me how to be brave
Everyday I feel like I belong in this world
I’m not alone but it’s a long road ahead
My parents were always there for me
Now I’m an 11th grader
It makes my mother and father have tears to see me grow into a beautiful woman that dreams big
I am special for who I am ,
I am  famous for who I am
This is something new that I dream about
My whole life is to write stories and poems because that’s what I love doing

I had a song for my parents that I wanted to sing for them it’s called ” you raise me up ” by Westlife.  It means so much to me, because you raised me up with a big heart, that shows that you cared about me.  Without you beside me I wouldn’t be here that’s how much I love my parents with a big heart .

Parenting is the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done.  Being Dev’s mom has so many rewards, being reminded of them is wonderful!


Unified Sports…

Sports are a fun way to stay physically fit, learn rules, make friends, create community.

When you sign any child up for preschool dance/soccer/swim lessons you get great pictures, new friends, a few minuets of free space…  This is true of all parents.

Soccer as a pre-schooler means running around in a pack after a ball :-)

Soccer as a pre-schooler means running around in a pack after a ball 🙂

Dev on the bar, looking beautiful!  3rd in line

Dev on the bar, looking beautiful! 3rd in line








We have been strong supporters of inclusive sports.  Maybe because we did not know there was anything else, maybe because it was easier to have both kids in the same activity, maybe because Dev could “keep up”.  What ever the reason it has been wonderful.  The obvious benefits being:

1) Friends, for Dev and for us

2) Exercise, always welcome

3) Social Rules, taking turns…

4) Fun

Now that Dev is older… dreaded teenage years…  We are finding even more benefits.  Just like with academics as kids get older their abilities get more clear.  Soccer, basketball, tennis…  all get more competitive, and lots of kids get left out or left on the bench.  In our middle schools we have had access to “no-cut” teams, these are great and should be the way sports work in public schools.   Everyone benefits from the team sport concept.  In high school this is harder, but track and swimming are still “no-cut” teams.  This year we were also introduced to Unified Soccer, a division of Special Olympics.

Our high school has enough kids/interest for 3 teams!  The teams are made up of 3 kids with a disability (athletes) and 2 kids with out a disability (partners) and subs for each.  At Hale (Dev’s high school), 2 teams are considered “competitive” and one is “recreational”  so kids of all abilities are able to play.  Only the athletes score and goal keep, so it enforces team play, passing, and communication.

I think the benefits of team sports are well known.  What I love hearing are the stories from the coaches and players of the teams that are surprised about how much they learn from the athletes.  Soccer players on the unified teams have mentioned how similar the athletes are rather than how different.  That all the players want to win, get frustrated, are proud, enjoy working together…  It is an amazing experience to “see” the kids figure out that how you treat others really makes all the difference.  That the “special ed” kid actually has all the same emotions they have….  that they are people…

Unified Sports 2013

Unified Sports 2013

We have our end of season party tonight.  We get to celebrate all of the kids, teams, coaches and parents.  Dev’s team qualified for the State games and won their division!  What a great experience for all!



Devon’s Vietnam

Here are Dev’s thoughts about Vietnam in her own words.  I did add a few punctuation marks this time and lead her a bit with the ideas, but the rest is all Dev!  She had to do a power point for school too 🙂

Hi I’m Devon. I would like to share my story about my experience in schools in a different country.

We flew in to Ho Chi Minh City.  We taught in Can Tho and explored the cities in red :-)

We flew in to Ho Chi Minh City. We taught in Can Tho and explored the cities in red 🙂

Well, my family went on a educational trip to Vietnam.  It was our first time going.  While we were there we went to a University to teach English.  It was fun and inspirational. I was at the university for the first day with my mom, sister and brother.  My dad was teaching medical stuff.  My mom and I went into several classes to teach “conversational English”  Mainly we asked and answered questions, getting the students to speak English.

My Dad and brother taught this class.  I with I had a picture of the class I taught :-(

My Dad and brother taught this class. I wish had a picture of the class I taught 🙁

This is my sister teaching English.  I do not have a picture of me teaching :-(

This is my sister teaching English. I do not have a picture of me teaching 🙁

The next several days my mother and I went to a school for kids and teens with Down syndrome.  They showed us different stuff they did to teach them.  My mom talked about me and my education to teachers and students with their moms. They also gave us a tour of the school it was really helpful to see. The students gave us special gifts that they made by hand.  They sew things to sell and carve key chain charms.  There is only one school for the whole area.

Items sewn by the students are sold

Items sewn by the students are sold

The students carve charms out of coconut

The students carve charms out of coconut







After lots of play and relays we were able to get a photo ;-)

After lots of play and relays we were able to get a photo 😉

The last day I was back at the university with Nana.  When the last class came in I was pulled out of that classroom with Nana,  into a another classroom! t  That’s when I taught a whole class english all by myself.   It was so much fun!

Conversational English at it's best!  Over dinner :-)

Conversational English at it’s best! Over dinner 🙂

The next week we spent learning about Vietnam and having fun with my grandparents, yup, they went with us 🙂

War sites were actually a small part of our wonderful trip to Vietnam.  Dev's grandfather had been here in 1974.

War sites were actually a small part of our wonderful trip to Vietnam. Dev’s grandfather had been here in 1974.

I hope we get to do that again!


iPad Winner for “Sam’s Top Secret Journal” Contest

“Sam’s Top Secret Journal–book 1–We Spy” is a fun, middle reader, chapter mystery that happens to have a main character with Down Syndrome.

Get yours today!

Get yours today!

The reason for the book is multi-facited.

1.  Inspire,   trying to inspire families touched by DS by showing what can be possible

2.  Inclusion,  showing class mates, siblings, teachers what can be possible

3.  Fun, a fun story just for the stories sake

We wanted more families to find “Sam’s Top Secret Journal” so we ran a contest to Win an iPad.  Dev loves her iPad and there are soo many Apps for education, communication, fun we thought it was a great fit!

Dev Drawing the winner

Dev Drawing the winner

The contest involved answering a simple question from the book and sending us contact information.  From all of the entries Dev got to draw a winner!  Drum roll please…..  Valerie and Josh were the lucky winners!

Josh loves the iPad!

Josh loves the iPad!

Thanks to all that entered!  Please share the “Sam’s Top Secret Journal–book 1– We Spy”.  Book 2 “The Lost Puppy” is scheduled to be out this summer!



Wow it is hard to believe, we will be in Vietnam in less than a week.

We will be having some fun, teaching some medical stuff and some conversational English.  We will also be leading by example when it comes to INCLUSION and ACCEPTANCE.

The new story about the teen with DS that made the climb to Mt. Everest base camp stated that 90% of the worlds cultures do not include/accept people with disabilities.  While in Vietnam we will be talking with educators and families about the value of all individuals and the fact that your expectations can make a tremendous difference in the abilities of a person.   Be watching, we will be posting about our experiences!



Win an Ipad!

Real life "Sam"

Real life “Sam and John”

Raise Expectations is running a contest to win a new iPad!


apple iPad


The contest will start Monday March 4th and end April 17th 2013.

Enter the contest by sending  in your answer to the question:

“How did Sam describe her dad after trying out his new bike in their driveway on his birthday?” from the book Sam’s Top Secret Journal, book 1- We Spy.

Get yours today!

Get yours today!


Send your answer in by responding here in the comments, email to sue48104@me.com or message me on RaiseExpectations Facebook page,   Don’t give away the answer on the main page, but message me 🙂

All correct answers will be entered into the drawing.  To win you must come from a household that has at least one child under the age of 16 or a household with a person who has a developmental disability.  All answers must include contact information in the event they win the contest.  We reserve the right to independently verify the household information is within the guidelines of the contest already stipulated. We will be awarding one Ipad (500$ value!) to a contestant who will be randomly drawn.

Get your copy of Sam’s Top Secret Journal by clicking on this link:  Sam’s Top Secret Journal. Sam’s Top Secret Journal can also be downloaded on Kindle, borrowed from the Seattle public library or purchased from any independent bookstore!

Join us in celebrating National Disabilities Awareness Month!

And International Down Syndrome Day 3-21!