If you live in the Los Angeles area,

there’s a one day conference called “Tools for the Journey:
Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome”
on March 31. The cost is $100 and you can apply for funding from your regional center. Thanks to Vicki from Speak Softly for the link.


Fresh, like peas…

Yes, I once again changed the layout of Pinwheels, to a brand-new theme called MistyLook. I loved Tarski (the previous theme) but I didn’t like the comments in the footer, which put them at the very very end of the blogroll…it required a lot of scrolling, and time, to get there. To my busy readers, I apologize!

I think I like this theme…time will tell. And comments, all comments! are welcome. What’s your favorite theme, and why?

More on PTZ

Dr. Len Leshin, who maintains the website www.ds-health.com and is father to a son with DS, has this to say about the Standford research on PTZ:

“I did see this. This goes along with an earlier study by Dr. Mobley at Stanford Univ. back in 2004 regarding GABA antagonists in a mouse model of DS.
There are two concerns here. First, the use of pentylenetetrazole, which is used currently only to produce seizures in mice. It has been unavailable for human use in the US for about 20 years due to the side effect of increased seizures in humans, and people with DS are more likely to suffer seizures than the general population. Hopefully a different GABA antagonist can be found. Second, past experience has shown that drugs that potentiate learning in mice don’t translate well to humans. It will take, unfortunately, another 10 to 15 years before this research can be useful to people with DS.”

Thanks to moderator Emdad at Downsyn.com for posting Dr. Leshin’s reply.

Stanford researchers look at PTZ

as a possible link in understanding memory and cognition in people with Down syndrome.

Stanford researchers believe that “PTZ and the other compounds may work because they block a neurotransmitter that slows brain function. That neurotransmitter is believed to work too well in Down syndrome patients, hampering learning and memory,” according to a news story in today’s San Jose Mercury News.

Rebecca from Always Chaos Around Here

is taking a blogging break, but has these links to share:

She found a new website called About Down Syndrome, which provides lists, facts and links and is maintained by a mom of eight, who is a registered nurse. Her youngest child is a boy with Down syndrome.

The second link is to the web diary of Andrew Bartlett, a Democratic senator from Queensland and member of the Australian parliament, who writes about the importance of community attitudes and support in this post.

And also, even though she’s on break, Rebecca has left up her blogroll, which is the most complete listing of bloggers writing about life with Down syndrome, at Always Chaos Around Here. If you read even a little bit about Down syndrome, you’re told that it can occur in any family, anywhere in the world. Rebecca’s blogroll is real-life proof of this: the list includes families of all kinds, from all walks of life, at all points of the compass. It’s amazing. Thanks Rebecca!

A secret language


My friend Emily asked how best to teach ASL to her children, who are beautiful and intelligent and thoughtful boys who happen to have the normal number of chromosomes. I suggested that she try my all-time favorites, Signing Time! by Rachel Coleman, and loaned her the first tape.

I love the Signing Time! series for many reasons: it’s a mother-owned business; the tapes/DVDs feature children of all ages and abilities modeling the signs; the method also introduces prereading skills and makes an easy transition into the PECS system, should you choose to go that way.

But my very favorite reason for teaching any child ASL is something Emily said to me: it’s like having your very own secret language, one that you can use wherever you are, wherever you go. Something you’ll always have together, to share.

Avery eating peas

He’s the last child at the dining room table, and last thing on his plate: a small pile of peas.

“Eat your peas, A. E.,” I say.

He looks at me, lips pressed closed, thin and tight.

“One bite. One bite and you’re done.”

No fork, no spoon, no knife. Just two fingers–index and thumb. Pinky raised delicately in the air. One pea, into his mouth.

He signs “all done.”

No, I sign back. More. More-more.

He takes another single pea, then another. All done?


Another and another, until the small pile of peas is halved.

All done, I say.

Avery smiles, and out roll the peas, each one round and whole, intact, not even chewed.


Lots of posts about Avery, so here’s one about his twin brother Bennett. Bennett is learning words, and like most little kids, sometimes he gets it wrong. For example:

Swirsty = thristy
Cramps = crayons
Pinata = blahblahblah
Green = blue
Knife = fork (this is perhaps the most confusing one.)
Avery = A.E.

This last one, calling Avery “A.E.”, has caught on like other, more famous nicknames. In our little world, A. E. is the P. Diddy or J. Lo. of children; Grandmas, Grandpas, Mommy, Daddy, Carter, Avery’s PT, his social worker, his little friends, everyone calls Avery “A.E.”

Until yesterday. Bennett came up to me and said, clearly and cleanly, “Avery is bugging me.”

Sigh. My little boy is growing up.