October 17, 2012

17/31 Book give-away: Advocate

In honor of Down syndrome awareness month I will be publishing excerpts from “From Grief to Celebration, How One Family Learned to Embrace the Gift of Down Syndrome” for 12 days. Each day features a different verb/chapter and at the end of the month we will give-away three copies of the book, signed by Alex. Priceless! 

I wrote, "From Grief to Celebration, How One Family Learned to Embrace the Gift of Down Syndrome"  to share this story of love, life, magic and down syndrome. Our critically acclaimed book details our journey through ten verbs beginning with grief, ending with plan and incorporating one bonus verb, celebrate. I hope this can be a resource to help others embrace, understand and learn. The book is available through this blog ($12.50) on-line booksellers ($13.99) and kindle (reduced to $3.99 during October).

Verb 7 – Advocate

My first acts of enthusiastic advocating occurred when Alex started first grade. I met with her teacher to talk about a success plan. One of my concerns from the beginning has been the other kids — how would they react to Alex, and would she be included in activities. I’ve always made it my business to meet with the teachers before school started to brainstorm various approaches. My teamwork method has always been well received, but due to funding issues, the resources necessary to create the team are overworked and over committed. Thinking outside the box has become status quo these days. I believe where there’s a will, there’s a way.

One of the things I did in first and second grade that worked well was meeting with Alex’s class about a month after school started. As there were actually four classes in each grade, Alex and I met with two classes at a time. Our goal was to talk about Alex, demystify Down syndrome and answer questions. We started each session by reading “Our Brother Has Down's Syndrome” Description: http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=theordi-20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=0920303315by Shelley Cairo. It’s the story of a little boy with Down syndrome named Jai, as told by his sisters. It’s easy to read and explains clearly that Jai is just like everyone else.

Alex and I sat at the front of the classroom, read the book, showed the pictures and stopped for questions along the way. We had practiced little sections for Alex to read so her classmates knew she was fully vested in our sessions, all of which were followed by a period of questions and answers. I still remember some of those "family secrets” that young children like to share (but my lips are sealed).

Self-advocating is extremely important, and also very hard to teach. I believe Alex knows what she must do in terms of making her needs known as well as standing up for her rights. However, sometimes she simply doesn’t have the confidence and tells me others ignore her. Like is the case with so many of her peers, while Alex demonstrates poise in other parts of her life, standing up for herself is more difficult

To read more please enter our give-away:

These are only two requirements to be entered in the drawing - and Alex will pick the winner!
1. Please like "The Ordinary Life of an Extraordinary Girl" on facebook (link on the sidebar), or
2. Follow this blog, on networked blogs (also on sidebar)

Of course, you will need to tell me you did this, either as a comment or by e-mail theextraordinarygirlllc@gmail.com .

Stay tuned
18/31 Book give-away: Expect the Best
19/31 Book Give-away: Practice Healthy Skepticism

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