We’re in Atlanta, learning lots.

When George was first born, and we found out he had Down Syndrome, I very quickly went into homeschooling-mom mode and started to worry about how I was going to teach him to read.  You all know how important reading is to us around here 🙂 .

It was probably less than thirty minutes into my immediate postpartum internet searching about DS and reading when I discovered that Sue Buckley, a brilliant researcher in England, had published studies showing that not only CAN young children (two and three year olds) learn how to read, they SHOULD be taught to read because it helps their other language skills, too. 

OK, no problem.  I had found my hero, and we were all on the same page, literally and figuratively.  You’ve seen the results.  George CAN read and reading HAS helped his other language skills. 

If you want to know more about the research and the organization, go here:


Here’s a brief summary, taken from their website:

Visual learning strengths

Children with Down syndrome find learning from listening more challenging due to hearing and verbal processing difficulties, and this leads to delays in speech, language and cognitive development. The charity’s research has shown that using visual teaching methods, such as reading, can lessen the impact of these difficulties and reduce the delays in speech, language and cognitive development. We have found that children with Down syndrome use visual reading strategies for longer (at higher reading ages) than their typically-developing peers.

Reading development

The charity’s studies have shown that most children with Down syndrome can learn to read and should start in their pre-school years. We have found that early sight word reading is a particular strength for preschool children with Down syndrome and that reading continues to be a strength in later years.

Speech, language and communication

Our research has found that teaching children with Down syndrome to read leads to permanent improvements in their speech, language and short-term memory skills. We have shown that the specific delays in developing expressive grammar are linked to delays in developing spoken vocabularies.

Drumroll please…. here’s the photo evidence!

This is George and Dr. Buckley herself.  Really, truly, no kidding. 

Over the course of just the past few days (I wasn’t sure I was actually going to be able to go until we were in the process of driving out of the driveway…), Emily, George and I made her the video you saw the other day, registered for a conference for speech therapists, drove to Atlanta, and got to meet and learn from the famous Dr. Buckley herself, along with two of her colleagues.  Now she and her friends call George “Thefamousgeorge”  (all one word 🙂 ) because of his You tube video, which I guess they liked as much as we did.

So anyway, I was SUPPOSED to be home, taking kids to violin lessons, taking naps and doing the many, many hours of preparation that I need to do before my first day with my new Faith Formation class on Sunday.  But instead, Emily and George and I are staying at a fancy convention center hotel, where are having a wonderful time and learning MUCH.  I have taken seventeen pages of notes, all interesting and practical things that our family can use right away to help George with his talking and reading and learning.  Plus I got to meet my educational hero.   It doesn’t get much better than this. 

10 thoughts on “We’re in Atlanta, learning lots.

  1. It’s no surprise that George has fans everywhere. He is an amazing little guy! So glad to hear you are enjoying your experience at the conference.


  2. I’m so pleased for you and George. To be able to work with the experts is such a gift. Might I mention the DeHority family is a gift to all of us who faithfully follow the blog. You share your story so beautifully, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  3. I’m in total agreement with Edda and Nancy’s thoughts!

    I can’t imagine how Dr. Berkley felt watching that precious little boy read… what a gift you gave her!

  4. What an awesome experience for you, Thefamousgeorge, and Emily. To be able to meet Dr. Buckley and then have her interact with George has to be a highlight of your life. Most of us never get to meet someone that we look up to and who has been a mentor from afar. What an experience.

    What at gift for all of you! What an amazing experience!

  5. Even with a hundred hints I wouldn’t have figured out that puzzle. 🙂
    I therefore FLUNKED the pop quiz. Will I get a make-up before the final? Pretty please? Can I do extra homework? Sounds like a wonderful trip!
    George has a great future ahead of him. I totally know it. Love & hugs.

  6. Wow that is awesome. I went to one of Sue Buckley’s workshops in Charleston when Spencer was 2. The school systmem bought all of the materials and I was able to preview them for the summer before Spencer went to pre school.
    I have found the best person to help with auditory processing disorders his name is Bob Dorman. He has worked with Special people for over 30 years and really has a grasp on how they learn. We visit him every 3 months and he creates a program to best fit Spencer’s educational needs. The program is really geared to parents who home school their children. Click on the link to find out more info.
    give me a call. I would love to get together with you. We are only an hour away. Hope you are feeling better. You are one amazing mom!!
    God Bless.

  7. Good Morning, Elizabeth. I’ve wandered over here by way of sweet Ann and just wanted to say hello. God bless you, Elizabeth. George is adorable. Your whole family is precious. And you are in my prayers this morning, dear one. God is so good to sprinkle people like Dr. Buckley into our lives, isn’t He? In the love of Christ, Patricia

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