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Down Syndrome Parenting 101

Must–Have Advice for Making Your Life Easier
Natalie Hale
Foreword by Martha Beck


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isbn# 978-1-60613-020-9
6" x 9"
242 pages

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"Blending humor, heart-warming stories, and valuable information, Natalie Hale provides a beautiful resource that sheds light on the many joys of this journey. As a parent who has just begun to explore this new path, I was enlightened and inspired."
-Kelle Hampton
Enjoying the Small Things blog

"Mother of an adult with Down syndrome, Hale (Oh, Brother! Growing Up with a Special Needs Sibling) writes a positive (without being sentimental or syrupy), practical, and realistic (e.g., one chapter is titled How To Ruin Your Child) guide to parenting children with special needs. She describes Down syndrome as a kind of yellow raincoat that all children with a 21st chromosome wear: while the raincoat can make them look identical, there are brilliant, individual kids underneath each. It's a compelling image, but it's Hale's practical advice on the next 250 pages that makes this book so worthwhile. She covers everything about raising a special-needs child‚ nursing, friendships, family dynamics, time-outs, drugs, avoiding pointless arguments (via Hale's ZZ Method), testing and schools, apps, choosing teachers, finding the least-restrictive environments, etc. Chapters can be read here-and-there or straight through. The introduction by sociologist and best-selling author Martha Beck (Expecting Adam) sets the tone: telling parents that they are extraordinary, to trust their intuition, and believe in accepting help.
Verdict: An essential book with indispensable advice for parents and teachers of kids with Down syndrome or any other mental disability. Highly recommended."
-Library Journal Xpress

"I just finished reading Down Syndrome Parenting 101 and loved it! Thank you, Natalie Hale, for giving parents straight-forward, sensible, honest, and humorous advice."
-Dr. Brian Skotko, Medical Geneticist, Down Syndrome Program, Children's Hospital Boston, www.brianskotko.com

"From the first page of this exceptional parenting manual, Natalie's clear eyes, calm voice and wry wit diffuse the anxiety that can accompany a Down syndrome diagnosis. Taking parents firmly yet gently by the hand, she guides them through the stormy months of adjustment and reveals the blue sky of opportunity that children with Down syndrome offer us: the opportunity to shed judgments, fears, and discouragements that limit our joy. Along the way, she surveys the stages of childhood from a seasoned special-needs perspective, shares practical approaches to common challenges--many of which she has lived firsthand--and strengthens both our resolve and our capacity to see the extraordinary in the ordinary."
-Kathryn Soper, editor of Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives and author of The Year My Son and I Were Born: A Story of Down Syndrome, Motherhood, and Self-Discovery.

"Weaving in personal experience and other people's stories, Hale offers advice on everything from motivating kids to do chores to teaching bus skills. Best of all, Hale's writing is warm, engaging and entertaining. Read it when you need a boost, a dose of optimism and advice from a wise friend."
-Amy Baskin, Today's Parent Special-Needs Parenting blog

"She offers encouragement and support for parents and also prompts them to look beyond the Down syndrome diagnosis when other symptoms arise. The collection of anecdotes from parents and the information presented would be useful for parents of mentally challenged children, not limited to Down syndrome. The book had a starred review in Library Journal Express and is highly recommended."
-CAPHIS Consumer Connections

"Every night, my daughter and I read Natalie Hale's children's book I Love Spaghetti. Actually, my daughter Gabby reads it to me, and we laugh about the girl kissing, hugging, and wearing spaghetti.

Reading Ms. Hale's new book is a completely different experience. Ms. Hale now talks to us directly, parent-to-parent, sharing her experience as a parent, a teacher, an advocate, and a member of 'the club,' the Down Syndrome Community.

Ms. Hale uses vignettes to illustrate, to entertain, to inspire, and to amaze the reader. As a parent, Ms. Hale wrote down snippets of her life with her child Jonathan, who has Down syndrome. She weaves those snippets of their lives, along with the snippets from other people's experiences, into this parenting handbook. Having been raised on 'Keith stories,' I appreciate so much the behind-the-scenes peek into the clever, funny, surprising things our kids with Down syndrome say. Personal anecdotes help us see how ideas are implemented, why some steps do not work, and remind us of the personalities, the people, behind 'techniques.'

Ms. Hale also provides organized advice, personal reflections, and explanations to educate parents on a variety of topics. From the simple 'listen to your gut' and 'do whatever works' to the detailed step-by-step instructions on how to handle 'the noncompliance face-off, Ms. Hale guides the reader through the myriad of issues parents of children with Down syndrome face.

Full of practical, detailed instructions, parents will walk away with valuable advice on handling behaviors, teaching reading, interacting with medical professionals, coping with the school system, and so much more. But woven throughout is the message that you will be delighted with your child's unique personality and way of viewing the world."
-Nancy McCrea Iannone
Outreach Coordinator, KIIDS
Executive Director, Down Syndrome Pregnancy, Inc.

"Hale is the mother of Jonathan, a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome (DS) plus the additional challenges of ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Hale is also a literacy teacher who has worked to teach many children with DS how to read. She uses her personal experiences as Jonathan's mother and numerous stories of children she has tutored to compile advice for other parents and families who have a relationship with a person with DS.

In short chapters (for those of us with short attention spans or frequent interruptions!), Hale covers a wide range of topics: self-talk, intuition, dealing with doctors and educators, literacy, noncompliance, language, humor and more."
-Down Syndrome News, Volume 35, #9

"Books offering parenting advice abound but few books engage the reader from the very beginning. This book made a father of a child with Down syndrome laugh out loud in more than one place, and he found it important enough to take on a business trip. Natalie Hale has firsthand experience parenting a young person with Down syndrome, and teaches reading to persons with Down syndrome. Her book provides many examples and memorable anecdotes related to each topic. Easy to read short chapters include text boxes that define key terms or provide tools and tips. The book celebrates the uniqueness of each child and the diversity within the diagnostic label while recognizing the growing points of parents as they manage their child’s and the system’s challenges.

Written within the context of the United States, some specific information such as how to find an early intervention program is less useful to Canadian parents, and websites do not include Canadian sources. However, most of the information has relevance no matter where the family lives. Information starts with essentials (using your intuition, nurturing yourself) and then moves to beginning years (finding doctors and other professionals, reading, self-talk, humor). The discipline years cover noncompliance, communicating emotions, chores, getting support while the school years focuses on education, testing and language issues. The book ends with the transition out of secondary schooling. There is much useful information for parents as long as their child is still in the early adult years or younger. There is no information on dealing with sexuality or choosing living arrangements. The focus is very positive yet realistic. There are some examples that may stretch the reader (e.g., extraordinary awareness of events).

Overall, this a book that parents will appreciate and occupational therapists can be comfortable recommending to them."
-Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy

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