DSAGSL Interns

The DSAGSL was fortunate to have three awesome interns over the course of the summer and wanted to share a bit about each of them!

Taylor Mitchell – University of Missouri
Taylor is a senior at the University of Missouri studying Cross-Categorical Special Education. She is very passionate about the role of positive tools and supports in the classroom and behavior modeling. Taylor has been volunteering in Special Education since she was young and has a unique interest in Down syndrome because of her sister, who has a similar disability. In her free time, Taylor likes to play with her dogs Mercedes and Memphis, visit with family and cheer on her favorite St. Louis Cardinals.

Chelsey Klenke – Missouri Baptist
Chelsey grew up around Edwardsville, Illinois. She moved to St. Louis when she began college at Missouri Baptist University, where she is majoring in Psychology and Human Services. She found out about the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis through an internet search and began reading more about this awesome organization and thought it would be perfect for an internship.  Chelsey says, “There are so many amazing programs that DSAGSL offers, and I knew I would be able to learn a lot from all of the staff. I plan to work at a non-profit organization when I graduate in the spring of 2015.”

Liz Hickey – St. Louis University
“My name is Liz Hickey and I interned with the DSAGSL throughout the summer. What drew me to the organization was it’s passion to help those families and individuals with Down syndrome. The programs and services the DSAGSL provides are amazing, and I was most interested in getting involved with the various programs that are offered. The work that each member of the DSAGSL does is remarkable, and I have been lucky enough and extremely grateful to be a little part of it all!”  Currently, Liz is a senior at Saint Louis University studying Psychology and Sociology. She hopes to continue working within a non-profit setting. She is originally from Chicago, and loves the Cubs and Blackhawks. In free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, being outdoors and reading. Deep dish pizza is her favorite, and she recommends Lou Malnati’s when you visit Chicago!

Back to School by Christy Klaus

Whether you can’t wait to get them on the bus or you have the back to school blues, there are things you can do to help your child with Down syndrome transition back into the school year.

Getting your Student Ready for School

  • Create before school/after school routines – use a checklist with pictures or words to help your child become as independent as possible in getting ready for school as well as after school.  This list can include things like putting on clothes, eating breakfast, brushing teeth. After school list might include snack time, homework time, reading.  Use rewards for completing tasks and to keep your child motivated.
  • Visit the classroom/school ahead of time.  Show your child the important places and how to get there (locker, cafeteria, nurse, bathroom, gym)
  • Introduce your child to his/her teachers and other important school personnel before school starts. Get the e-mail address of each one. Take pictures of each teacher.
  • Create a social story (using the pictures) about going back to school.
  • Create a document about your child (include basic family/contact info, interests, accomplishments, effective social and behavioral strategies). Share this with all teachers/school personnel.
  • Have your child or help your child create something they can share about their summer (using pictures and/or words).

Getting your School Ready for Your Student

Communicating with Your Child’s Team – Regular communication with your child’s team is crucial to success in the classroom.

  • Who –   Teachers, Special Educators, Paraprofessional, Therapists, Nurse, Counselor
  • What – Share information about your child, any support plans, “Supporting the Student with Down Syndrome – Information for Teachers”, summary of IEP goals, DSAGSL seminars and conferences
  • How –   Communicate using a Home/School notebook or binder, e-mail, team meetings, or individual meetings
  • When – Weekly e-mails to the team on Sunday night/Monday morning, if issues are developing intervene early, in May – discuss transition to the next grade, in August – meet new teachers, share information about Ds

If you have specific questions regarding back to school or the resources listed here, please contact our office at (314)961-2504.

Gardening for All by Jeanne Carbone

This blog was written by a representative from the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Digging in the dirt, planting a seed, searching for a color in the garden, sitting very still to see the action of a butterfly….these are all a part of the joy of gardening.  Gardening is, simply put, an interaction between a person and a plant.  That interaction does not require an extensive knowledge of horticulture or a complete set of the best tools but rather what is needed is a desire to engage and a “living” space. 

A child with a disability has the ability to use their senses on many levels to make a connection in the garden.   Encourage a child to make observations by touching, smelling, looking, listening and yes, tasting.

  • Rub a leaf to notice the texture…..soft, smooth, sticky, “hairy”
  • Pick a seed pod and shake it to see if it makes noise
  • Rub the leaves of an herb and smell your fingers
  • Pick a few mint leaves, wash them and taste where the flavor of gum comes from
  • Use color samples to find matching colors in the garden

What better way to connect a child to the garden than to make it their own?  Planting a few seeds of basil in a pot and being responsible for their care can be the start of a lifetime of gardening, for children and parents.  Once a seed is planted, have the child check the soil with their finger everyday…..is it wet or dry?  Water as needed and as the plant grows, talk about what is happening.  The stem is getting taller, leaves start budding, the leaves have a smell to them.  Create a journal to track the growth of your plant and before you know it, basil will be in your dinner.   Harvesting from a plant that your child started from seed is what gardening is all about!