Saturday, May 30, 2015

Walk with Angels!

 We had our annual Walk with Angels today!  We look foreword to this day!  It is so fun to get everyone together to celebrate our little Angel.  We appreciate all those who came to support us.  It means so much!  Floyd helped us make the shirts and they say "Our little professor, teaching us every day!"  Our little Liam has taught us so much!  He has taught us about hard work.  He works so hard to accomplish things that comes naturally to many of us but he is getting so strong every day!  He has taught us about unconditional love.  He lights up any room he's in and gives the best hugs and snuggles.  And he's taught us about happiness.  He is such a happy little guy and having him in our life has brought us so much happiness. 

We are so grateful to the United Angels Foundation who made this day possible.  They have been such a blessing in our life!  Through them I have found some of my best friends who completely understand what I'm going through and help me.  They provide activities for my whole family so we can create family memories together. 

It was such a beautiful day!

The Minions

Kyson was on the Minion team this year!  Watching Kyson play this year was so much fun!  It was a huge improvement from last year where he use to hug has team mates all game!  This year he made at least one goal every game!  He figured out that if he stayed by his goal, when the ball came near him, he could just kick it in! He also learned how to dribble and handle the ball really good.  It was such a fun team to watch!

Killer Whales!

 Gavin was on the Killer Whales team this year.  It was so much fun watching this team grow and progress through the year.  At the beginning, they didn't win any games, and they struggled with passing and playing their positions.  Through their coach's hard work and training, these kids worked together and played awesome!!  They were passing, being more aggressive and they had fun!  I loved watching Gavin grow this year in skill and confidence.  It was fun season!

 Gavin loved playing with his best friend Trevor.

He's doing it!

I feel like for the last month, it seems like it is really clicking for Liam on learning how to crawl and move.  He could get up on all fours, and he seemed so close to crawling.  Finally this last week, he started moving his little knees foreword and hands and has started to crawl!  It has been so exciting!  It is very slow, but he's doing it! 
 Working with a cushion has been a big help with him learning to crawl and strengthen his abdominal muscles.  At first I would put him up to it and he'd strengthen his arm muscles by holding himself up on it.  I'd then try to move the cushion away from him and he'd scoot his knees so he could be back up to the cushion.  And then we moved to crawling to it.  By having it higher up, it stopped him from trying to army crawl, but get there by crawling on his hands and knees.  It has been such a long process.  We have worked on this for easily 3 months, maybe more!  Such a hard worker!
Now we are working on standing up to things and start walking along things.  He has been doing really good with this.  His physical therapist was so impressed when we started doing this.  And it's a good thing when Betsy is impressed!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hard work is paying off!

I'm so proud of my sweet Gavin.  He has worked so hard this school year.   Gavin started off the year reading well below grade level and ended the year almost where he is suppose to be!

 Gavin has always struggled with reading and language.  He did Kids on the Move to help with his language development when he was 2, and before he started preschool I would work with him almost daily learning his letters and sounds.  I remember his preschool teacher pulled me in one day and told me of her concerns with him and encouraged me to repeat preschool.  I decided to move him on to Kindergarten, but it was always on the back of my mind that he may have to repeat a grade if he fell behind too far.  Kindergarten he did okay, and then he was in 1st.

 In 1st grade there is a huge jump in reading.  I am a 1st grade teacher, and I love it because the kids come in knowing to read simple books, and leave reading chapter books.  It makes you feel like a wonderful teacher, although it is just the kids' development and maturity.  So, it was really hard for me to watch Gavin struggle through the year.  I knew exactly where he should be and he wasn't there.  He kept slipping farther and farther behind.  He had a wonderful teacher who was also concerned and started interventions to help him.  When those interventions didn't seem to make a difference he was referred to resource and he started that beginning of 2nd grade.

In the beginning of 2nd grade, on the DRA reading test, Gavin scored a 12, which is mid-year 1st grade.   And at the end of the year, he was reading at a level 28!!  They are suppose to be at a 30 at the end of 2nd grade, so he was really close!  I couldn't be more proud of him and all his hard work.  I don't know what it was specifically that helped him.  But these are the things we did differently this year:

Resource-I am a teacher, and I know a lot about helping children with learning disabilities, but I know that I do not have the skills those resource teachers do.  The strategies and knowledge they have is not something I can do.  I'm a big believer in trusting the system and trusting those who know more than I.  And I think they are great resource teachers at Highland Elementary.   Gavin struggled, and still struggles with going to resource.  He doesn't like to be pulled out of class.  But I keep stressing with him, that sometimes we need to do things we don't want to do, but it will be worth it if we stick through it.  Hopefully that will be a good life-long lesson he will learn.

Tutoring-I take Gavin to AF library at the Brian McKay Eddington Learning Center.  The tutors are these sweet elder missionaries where this is their service mission.  The program they use has been really helpful for Gavin.  They do a lot of phonics practice, which is good for him.  Those little reading tricks (silent e, two vowels, etc) he needed a lot of repetition in order to remember them in his reading, and this program helped him with that.  It also helped with his fluency and comprehension, two things he struggled with.

Medication-I was really on the fence about putting Gavin on medication.  First of all, I didn't think he had ADD.  I thought (and still do) that he has dyslexia.  So when I asked the psychologist who did his testing what her thoughts were, she brought up the inattentiveness and lack of focus.  He doesn't have the hyperactivity, which made it harder for me to see, especially when trying out medications. I had to rely a lot on what his teacher said.  So we tried a couple different medications, and I didn't feel that there was a difference.  His teacher said she couldn't tell a difference on or off medication.  He was well behaved and seemed to be paying attention.  It wasn't until about November, we switched to a new medication and I noticed at home he was more focused on not just academic things, but in his playing.  He could sit and work on Legos forever or play with his trucks.  And he didn't have as much interest in computer games or TV, he would rather use his imagination.

And of course we read with him daily.  Both him reading to us, and us reading to him.  But mostly him reading.

Through this whole experience with Gavin, and I can't stop thinking about how grateful I am to learn all these things.  I know we are going through this to be able to help Liam.  Gavin learns very similarly  to other children with Down syndrome.  They are very visual.  So already I feel like I know how I can help Liam in his language and when he starts learning to read, because I know what has worked for Gavin.  

But again, couldn't be more proud of my sweet Gavin.  His hard work and dedication is what really made the big difference.  He is going to go far!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Gavin's Baptism Day

 Today Gavin was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I'm so proud of this sweet boy and the good choices he makes.  He is such a good example to his brothers and sister.  We had many family and friends there to support him and he was smiling from ear to ear the whole time.  We love our sweet Gavin Jay!