Rating System:
5-stars = excellent, this book ought to be in your library, run out and buy a copy now!
4-stars = great, good references, raises your DSIQ several points, builds confidence
3-stars = good, comforting, possibly weak in some medical areas…read the cliff notes to save time
2-stars = just barely ok, if you have the time read it, otherwise don’t feel left out
1-star = what a waste of a tree! what were they thinking? I hope they didn’t get paid to write this!
HS = Home schooling
E = Emotional content
SC = Science enriched content
MED = prolific Medical language
P= plenty of Pictures
+ = on the high side
– = on the low side

GIFTS: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives – Edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper, Foreward by Martha Sears, RN, Woodbine House publishing, (c)2007

Rating: 3.75-stars, E, P
This lovely book is a compilation of short but diverse stories by mothers of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and viewpoints. I found it to be heartwarming and was able, as a mother of a child with DS, to relate to some of their experiences which was emotionally surprising and ultimately comforting. It makes a nice gift to parents with a child with DS or their family members. The messages of these mothers are very supportive and loving. Read with tissues handy.
–Anne Marie

BABIES WITH DOWN SYNDROME: A New Parents Guide – Edited by Karen Stray-Gundersen, Woodbine House publishing, (c)1995

Rating: 1.9-stars
I suppose this book is considered the bible since it is the first place parents tend to look when shopping for information. I mean, hey, just look at the title! It speaks to ‘new parents’. It also is given out to parents in some hospitals by case workers and representatives for associations supporting Down syndrome. It was barely okay in my opinion and seriously needs updating!

The point of this book is to highlight the medical, health and therapeutic problems parents may face with their child, but each time they get into the details of how to solve the problem it undermines the book. The Internet alone undermines this book and puts it to shame.

As a primer for parents, the list of medical problems these children experience is fairly good. It is out of date where the medical facts are concerned. For instance, there are only two insignificant references to seizures (page 80, 117) when Infantile Spasms (not even referenced in the book by this name)  are occurring in babies with Down syndrome at a conservative rate of 8% but as high as 15% if you trust the Internet. A couple phone calls to local parents of kids with ‘DS and IS’ will confirm the number is much more on the high side. Infantile Spasms should be specifically listed in the book on the “what to watch for” medical signs list.

Since I am into healing the body from the inside out with the most gentle, safe, natural ways possible, seeing recommendations for commercial products made with chemicals I avoid in soaps and lotions was a turn off for me as was the suggestion to use petroleum jelly for cradle cap and diaper skin care.  By the time I saw shades of the “standard American diet” propaganda I was discrediting most of health info the book as “not for my baby”.

The book was forgotten by us once we read through it –our baby was about 30-days old when we read it, because it is really a handbook spanning a child’s early developmental years. New parents really aren’t interested in reading about speech, occupational or physical therapy at that time since they haven’t a clue as to their child’s ability or dis-ability. Given that parents are handed this book to read when they are in a sleep deprived state from the arrival of baby, it is too much info since the tendency is to forget the content early on. This book would have been better if it had been broken into three individual books based on age with more information on each topic.
–Anne Marie

GROSS MOTOR SKILLS in CHILDREN WITH DOWN SYNDROM – A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Patricia C. Winders, PT, Woodbine Hourse publisher, (c)1997

Rating: 4.5-stars, HS, P+
Pros: Great milestone checklists, home activities with great instructions and guidelines, good pictures of happy babies and toddlers enjoying themselves (most kids cry during PT!).

Cons: Why read a book when someone can show you? Gross motor skills are usually developed with an experienced physical therapist helping you, giving good instructions. If not a PT, then the school district usually provides a special education teacher who is capable of teaching the parents and working with the child to advance their skills. Consequently, this book rarely gets re-opened or consulted, as was our case.

All that being said, it is really a terrific reference book and provides excellent instruction for helping your child achieve their gross motor skill development milestones.
–Anne Marie

EARLY COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR CHILDREN WITH DOWN SYNDROME – A Guide for parents and Professionals by Libby Kumin, PhD, CCC-SLP, Woodbine House publishing, (c)2003

Rating: 5-stars, MED, HS, P-
This books needs to be out on a table and consulted often for self-reference about how you are doing as a parent in terms of “are you doing all you possibly can” –and for referencing your baby as they reach or don’t reach important speech milestones.

In the beginning, it is hard to imagine that your newborn is going to communicate much, but if you read my review on the DVD “Dunstan Baby Language” you will be amazed at how a baby can clearly communicate with great accuracy!

Working with a good speech therapist to get some guidelines for the first 12-months of life can be a great starting place; then this book will take you to places you never even thought of. For example, there are numerous activities you can do with your baby that you may have assumed were too advanced, but are, in fact, not.  There are tips on how to teach language to your baby that build the foundation for verbal expression later on.

Babies learn through repetition and immitation. To illustrate this point in simple term, this book teaches you that every time you do an activity, your baby would benefit from the repetition of, for example, identifying their body parts as they go in and out of clothing, naming the action “in” or “out” as the sleeve goes on or off; and daily activities that give tactile stimulation like face washing, gum rubbing, cheek massage or using your baby’s finger to touch their lip gives their brain information that we take for granted. Because there is enough info for newborns to benefit by, I would say this is a good book to get early on. It will validate the talkative parent and encourage the silent type to speak out.

There are excellent checklists, idea pages for activities, lists of physical traits with their corresponding influence towards disability, planning and evaluation worksheets and more.

I like that the author uses correct medical terminology for identifying the various parts of the mouth. I like that she discusses how a physical trait influences speech so that a parent can quickly identify an area that needs more attention and what to do about it.

This author made me look at human beings very differently. For example, I began to see how a child is socialized and given cues to follow from directives or by example and the importance of constantly –and patiently repeating certain lessons. This is critical for children with Down syndrome because they can have difficulty socializing due to poor communication skills from a specific physical disability or retardation. I learned more about how the brain needs information from the nerves –provided during oral and facial tactile stimulation, which greatly aids speech development.The importance of awareness as a parent for my child’s visual, auditory and sensory skills and abilities because of their influence on learning speech. Every chapter has “wow” in it.

There is something for everyone in this book, at every level of interest, and for every child.
–Anne Marie

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