Down Syndrome: “Cindy”

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Cindy Cherie Wade was born May 22, 1976, in Salt Lake City. When the doctors told us that Cindy was born with Down Syndrome, they described a very bleak future and we found the first months of her life to be very discouraging. Not knowing where to turn we searched for help from individuals and organizations, but found little that gave us much encouragement. It was only when we learned about Robert Doman, Jr., that we found the help which would make a tremendous difference in Cindy’s life. The NACD Foundation had not been formed as yet, but Robert Doman was working at the clinic called “Help for Brain Injured Children” in California.

We traveled to California to see Mr. Doman and received Cindy’s first evaluation and program. By that time Cindy was eleven months old and could not make any movement on the floor. We patterned her for one week and put her on a slide to see if we could get her to move forward on her own. One morning to our astonishment, she pulled herself forward on the floor. In just a short time she was crawling all over our house. Then, she was creeping, and at 23 months she began to walk. These were happy days at the Wade Home!

We began to notice many wonderful and exciting differences in Cindy. Most of the dramatic changes became evident after about six months into the program. At age 2 we started to teach her to read. This seemed like a crazy idea, after all she was supposed to be mentally retarded. However, we persisted and as she neared her third birthday she began to identify and read the words. We were ecstatic! When she was four years old, the local newspaper wrote a special article on her reading and other abilities. When she turned five, one of the television stations featured her on a program. It was exciting to see how well she was doing.

One of the big hurdles in her life came when she started kindergarten. The school principal felt that she should go into a special education class, but when he actually observed her and saw that she could read about 500 words, identify all her colors and numbers, plus many other skills, he decided to give her a try in regular kindergarten. By the time she was ready for third grade the principal no longer questioned her placement in regular classes. He and the teacher were thrilled with her progress.

When Cindy was seven years old she read for a class of teachers in a graduate education class. They were amazed at the speed of her reading and spelling ability, along with her grasp of elementary math concepts. It was a real eye opener for all of them as they observed her potential. Many of those teachers expressed to us how observing Cindy changed their ideas of teaching.

Following third grade we moved to Hawaii. Once again we had to deal with Cindy’s placement in school. The principal was willing to give her a try in regular classes, and he too, was excited to see how well she functioned both academically and socially.

Each year Cindy continued to progress successfully in the regular classroom. When she reached junior high school age we wondered how successful this experience would be. We found that if the teacher was willing to help and to work closely with us, it was a good experience. On the other hand, if the teacher would not assist in the work and communicate with us, it did not work very well. With close cooperation between school and family and with special help at home, Cindy maintained a 3.0 to 3.5 GPA throughout her junior high and high school schooling in Hawaii. Now in her senior year in high school, she is still in regular classes. However, she is tutored at home for academic subjects as was the case during the tenth and eleventh grade. We have not put her in some of the more academic classes because of her auditory processing. It is difficult for her to follow the teacher during lectures. She has taken classes like choir, ceramics, dance, physical education, art, drama, and seminary. Cindy has learned many excellent skills outside the classroom, also. She does very well on the piano and flute. She reads music and has a great sense of tone, rhythm and feeling for music. Cindy also takes dance lessons. Last year she danced at a farewell program for our family in the community. She danced with her older sister and received a standing ovation for her outstanding performance.

Cindy learned to swim at about age 5 and has been an excellent swimmer ever since. She has won swimming ribbons in competitions in our community. She has learned to ride a bicycle, do flips on the trampoline, and roller skate and ice skate very well. Cindy is amazing on the computer. She types all of her own papers, makes up materials for printing, records her journal, and spends hours on it in creative activities.

Academically, Cindy continues to surprise us. She manages to learn what she is being taught. Sometimes, of course, it takes much longer to input the information, but she will eventually internalize it. We remember when she was in her world history class in ninth grade, and was assigned to learn the countries of the world. We thought this might be extremely difficult, but she passed the final test on the countries of the world with an “A.” She has been very interested in science, geography, and Spanish.

When Cindy began school, she could not speak with clear sentences. This was one of the reasons the principal wondered if she should go in the special education class. However, today her speech is very clear and understandable. As a family, we are proud of her accomplishments. She continues to surprise us. She watches television shows such as “Saved by the Bell,” and she knows every actor and actress by name. She quotes facts and figures about them which she has read in teen magazines. She loves to see movies such as “Newsies,” and she learns to play on the flute and the piano the music from the show. Her favorite pastime is to pretend being on stage. She would make a great actress! In fact, this is one of her goals.

Cindy has been on Robert Doman’s program since she was eleven months old. We are convinced that most of her progress is a result of our applying the principles and procedures provided to us by Robert Doman, Jr., and The NACD Foundation organization. Cindy lives a very different life today than the life the doctors outlined for us and promised when she was born. We, her parents, recommend that all parents try this program. It works.

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 10 No. 14, 1996 ©NACD