August 5th was National Friendship Day! As therapists, we realize how important friendships are for all children, especially those who have disabilities. Friendships build social skills, self-confidence, and help children feel supported and included in a world that isn’t always understanding or accommodating. This is a list of books you can share with your child’s friends and their parents to help them better understand Down Syndrome and the important truth that we are all more alike than we are different. Books are an engaging and effective way to teach valuable lessons including kindness and inclusion!
47 Strings: Tessa’s Special Code
This is a great beginner book. It introduces children to Down Syndrome and genetics, to help children understand what causes Down Syndrome and what makes children with Down Syndrome special.
My Sister Alicia May
This story presents a unique perspective of Down Syndrome through the eyes of a sibling. It’s about sisters, one of whom has Down Syndrome. They face ups and downs together, related to Down Syndrome, but they face them as a team. Through it all, love, acceptance, and pride are the resounding feelings that the main character feels toward her very special sister.
Why Are You Looking At Me?
This is another book to help your child’s friends understand Down Syndrome from your child’s perspective. This book focuses on the truth that children with Down Syndrome are children first, before they are “children with Down Syndrome.” After reading this book, your child’s friends will have a better understanding that your son or daughter is like every other child with the same likes and dislikes! We must embrace and accept people who may just look different than ourselves!
In My World: Down Syndrome
This is a story about Mika, who experiences many of the same things other children experience. She just happens to see the world differently than other children because she has Down Syndrome. This book discusses the struggles she has as a result of her Down Syndrome, but her mother and brother stand by her side through it all as she overcomes them and realizes how unique she really is.
Taking Down Syndrome to School
This is another good book to read aloud to children. It can help them understand why a child with Down Syndrome may feel different than other children, and it also teaches children how to show empathy toward all peers. This book presents the importance of inclusion at school for all students.
We’ll Paint The Octopus Red
This is the perfect book for kindergarten to early elementary students. It discusses a young girl who anticipates everything that she will do with her new baby brother. When she finds out her brother has Down Syndrome, she realizes that as long as she is patient and helps him when he needs it, there isn’t anything her baby brother won’t be able to do!
My Friend has Down Syndrome
This is a great book for pre-school and early elementary school aged children in helping them understand what Down Syndrome is and that all kids are different whether they have a disability or not. In the story, there are two children, one with Down Syndrome and one without, who become friends. They realize that they are different but good at different things, and they can help each other and accomplish a great deal together! Having a friendship with someone with Down Syndrome is a real blessing!
Keep ‘Em, Share ‘Em, Pass ‘Em On!
The best thing about these books is that you can keep copies at home, for your child’s siblings and friends, share them with the parents of your child’s friends, or even give copies to your son or daughter’s teachers to read to the class. We all know that a good story can sometimes teach children better than a talk from mom or dad, so read away. Kindness, acceptance, inclusion, and embracing each other (differences and all) will echo as lessons from these stories. If we can teach our children any lasting lesson, it’s to see others with your heart…not your eyes.
DISCLAIMER: Information published about one particular disorder does not necessarily apply to every individual who has the disorder discussed in this article. Treatments and therapies are highly individual and must be customized to the needs of each person to be effective. Do not make changes to your/your child’s treatment plan as a result of what you read in this article (or any content published by AASL) without consulting your/your child’s physicians and therapists. This content does not necessarily reflect the opinions of All About Speech and Language or its therapists. To understand the opinions and recommendations of your/your child’s AASL therapist, schedule an appointment with your therapist to discuss your concerns.Tags: down syndrome, friendship, special needs awareness, special needs inclusion