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!




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…



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!



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!



A Mom’s Oversight, True Inclusion???

So, I’m working on another post that has been swimming in my head, but just has not fully formed yet about the Nature vs. Nurture aspect of parenting. Then last night happened… I was not prepared, so I do not have any great pictures, but I will have the memories.

Just one of the crowd

Just one of the crowd

As so many of us know, days get busy and plans do not always work out. Dev is a busy kid, her older sister and younger brother are busy too. Last week Dev had 4 playoff basketball games that we had to work in to the schedule last minute, requiring canceling of piano lessons, numerous family dinners, homework help, blah blah blah. So when Monday evening rolled around and we got word that Dev was expected to be at school for another Cheer leading thing on Tuesday night 5:30-7:30 we were a little frustrated.

The cheer leaders were expected to be school ambassadors for the “Prospective Students Evening”. A little added pressure was given to the girls that are planning on trying out again for the squad next year as it would “show their dedication”… They have been asked to help out at school for all kinds of things where they usually stand around looking cute, handing out fliers show people around the school. OK, we will do it, Dev loves the squad.. Since we missed last weeks piano lessons I reworked the schedule so that Dev would go to piano early, her sister would take her to school so she could be there from 6-7:30. I thought a good effort!

So all goes as things go (left overs for dinner).. I head out to pick her up getting to school around 7:25 as she is supposed to be done at 7:30. I text Dev that I’m parked in the usual spot and she responds “k” (how cool that she totally uses the phone well). So I wait… and think about all the times the squad has had to be at school and hold doors, set up chairs, hand out flyers… And wait… I think how great it is that Dev is part of the squad… I call, text… Wait… 20 min later I call again… I get frustrated… 8:00 still No response… It’s time to go in…

The school is deserted, the janitors are finishing up… I start to worry a little, but keep going. I find a few people near the auditorium, so I wonder that way. I open the door to the auditorium and find it packed with parents and potential new students for next year. And who do I see right in the middle of the stage with about 20 other kids taking questions from the crowd… (If only I had been a good mom and turned on the camera…)
Parent from the crowd, “What do you like best about Hale?”
Student to the left of Dev “the Japanese program”
Dev, “the teachers, they really know how to make learning fun”
Student to the right of Dev, “the Drama program”

No fan fair, no mention that Dev has Down Syndrome, no “wow, you did great”, no trying to slipping the microphone past… She’s just a regular kid to all the kids on the stage. Wow…

There was no preparation– for her or for me…  No, “Hi Sue, we would love if Dev could be on stage to show that we are an inclusive school”, no script for her to remember… It was REAL…




Thanksgiving here was not our typical holiday. We still spent a lot of time enjoying food, thinking of family and friends and watching football, but Sean and Dev also had a new experience: Being on TV!

Why?  Mainly to keep working on getting the message out there that the world will be a better place the more inclusive it is.

Inclusive: not excluding any particular groups of people in a society.

It seems that our society is becoming more inclusive and exclusive at the same time. We have an African American President, a Female Secretary of State, openly gay members of Congress, and a person with an Intellectual Disability on the ADA panel. Yet, the closed-mindedness of the political season was astounding. The division of past and future, good and evil and black and white seems to be razor sharp.

Raise Expectations started out as a way for Sean and I to look outward and share our experiences of “Special Education”. In the process we have come to realize that it is not just about the inclusion of kids with DS, ID or DDD (what ever DX), but it is more about celebrating differences. We do believe inclusive education is key in teaching appreciation and empathy to all.

The earlier we are exposed to different genders, races, religions, cultures, abilities (physical and intellectual) and ideologies the less scary they are; the sooner we can learn the value that each difference brings to this world. I hope we, as a society, can learn to be more open minded, accepting and inclusive.

I’m going to choose to be Thankful and Hopeful, to live in the Positive.  My new favorite quote is from Einstein: ” Learn from yesterday, Live for today, Hope for tomorrow”.  Dev seems to do this everyday, she is, as Sean said “an ambassador of possibilities”.

Dev and Sean (and a few more cheer leaders :-) will be on KING 5 New Day Northwest on December 5th at 11am! Please take a look!



Looking in the Mirror

Catching sight of your self in the store window can sometimes wake you up. What do I look like to others vs what I look like to myself. And more still what do I look like compared to what I think I look like.

We just found this great teaching video about DS done by the Kansas City DS Guild.

Our family enjoyed it, we decided it would be great to send on the teachers, principle, coaches at Dev’s school. They also thought it was well done and thought it would be a great thing to show their student population through “mentorship classes”. The school strives to be inclusive and has a variety of kids in a variety of settings. Yeah! Lots of great stuff right.

Almost as an after thought we decided to share it with Dev, after all she is an expert when it comes to DS, right… Dev knows she has DS, like she knows she as blond hair and girl parts. We have talked about how it may be harder for her to learn new things, or say certain sounds; how she is super flexible and very empathetic as being related to DS, but not overly so.

9.9 times out of 10 when I see Dev I see Dev, I do not see Down Syndrome. 9.9 times out of 10 when I head to store I’m not thinking about the jean’s and t-shirt I have on… But when I get to the store what do others see… When Dev gets to school/on the bus, what do others see…

Every morning when I get up I do not think about how blessed I am to wake up in a bed, warm, with food in the fridge. I also do not think about being challenged by my serious need for glasses or my constant disorganization. I get up put on my glasses, and get going on the day. Dev is the same. She does not get up each day and say “oh yeah, I have DS, I need to work on… today” She just gets going.

Open Heart, Open Mind

After Dev watched the video, she stated, “ I have 47 chromosomes” (yep), “cool”. Then she said, “I need to find a friend with DS, because they make great friends”. She sees herself as the person able to be a good friend to a person with DS, as well as the person with DS. She identifies with both sides of the picture. I think that is remarkable. I what more people to see the world from the possibilities point of view, and open their minds and hearts.

To order the film or to donate to this great program follow this link:


“Be a Fan of Unity”

That is the slogan on the Special Olympics Blog site.   What a great sentiment:  Unity, coming together as one, working for a common goal.  It seem so obvious, why is it so difficult?

We are new to Special Olympics.  We have had limited interactions, Sean helped with physicals for a few years in Florida when the kids where little, but Dev has never competed, and we have not volunteered recently.  We have always trended towards an inclusive reality, and Dev has been able to participate.

For the most part we just signed her up, continuing with the “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” philosophy.  Pre-school- elementary soccer, softball, dance, gymnastic, basketball, swimming… You name it, Dev was on a team and loved it. As parents we helped coach or supplied snacks.  The other parents and coaches were always encouraging, the teammates played and enjoyed too, Unified to win the games/scores/play.

“hitting a home run”!

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










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

Dev, waving at us from 3rd place!









Moving in to middle school things became harder, as skills progressed.  The middle school in Michigan had a “no cut” policy for some sports, so those are the ones she played.  Her early experiences and abilities gave her skills to be included. She played on the B teams for middle school basketball, and swam.  She also joined a rock climbing club, what a great sport!  In Seattle she also played on basketball team (#14) and enjoyed gymnastics classes.


Dev loves to climb high on the walls and in life!

If we could find a convenient climbing gym, I think she would still be climbing :-)

High school, as many of you know, she has been cheer leading.  First she joined a cheer team specifically for kids with disabilities.  It was a wonderful experience and Dev learned a lot of cheering skills, but also learned she liked inclusive teams.  So when she made the high school team for her sophomore year she was thrilled!  She has learned more cheers and dances than I ever thought she would be able too. Recently a friend mentioned the Unified Soccer Team at Hale.  The teams  have equal numbers of players with and with out intellectual disabilities.

Through the years, the coaches and the teammates have learned a lot too, not to pre-judge or underestimate. Teams work when everyone is working together for a common goal.  Each member of the team has a role, some are big some are small, but they rely on each other.  I hope that is the direction the Special Olympics are going with their Unified Team approach.

In life our lives are tied to each other.  We can build each other up or tear each other down, but we are connected.  We learn from ALL of those around us, how we treat others is how we will be treated.  “We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same” (Ann Frank). Together, unified, we can make the world a better place.


October: Awareness Month…

I’ve been enjoying so many blogs, web pages and facebook stories lately.  Since this is Down Syndrome Awareness this month I thought I would share a few of my favorites.

First the National Down Syndrome Congress has a wonderful campaign called “We are More Alike”  here is the This shows real people doing real things in inspiring, realistic ways.

National Down Syndrome Congress

We are More Alike than Different


Second is an amazing Blog by a mum in Canada, called Down Wit Dat


She is new to this path, but has become a tremendous source of information for me.  As most of you know Dev is 16, so we’ve been on this road for a while, but sort of with blinders on.  Jen Logan has written some great blogs about the history of DS.  Things that I find fascinating, yet I never looked into before.

Down Wit That

Cool Blog with a tremendous amount of information


Another Web page with great, up to date information is the Global Down Syndrome Foundation

This foundation is relatively new and founded by invested grandparents.  The statistic presented and the research funded show that we can all make a big difference in the world we live in.

Global Down Syndrome Foundation

A new Foundation making huge strides in every direction.


The last one I will promote here is Facebook mogul Rick Smith (Noah’s Dad):

Noah's Dad Facebook page

Rick and Noah (and Mom) bring smiles and community to so many families!

They also have a blog: that has great information.  The facebook community created by Noah’s Dad is amazing, supportive, inspiring, Thanks Rick.

I think we are living in an amazing time.  We can reach across counties to make friends and support strangers.  We can draw inspiration and gain empathy from a much larger group than ever before.  We can also mobilize and increase awareness, change laws, be empowered in new ways.  So enjoy some of these sites and maybe start one of your own.