Down Syndrome Parenting 101: Must-Have Advice for Making Your Life Easier

Written by Natalie Hale

Format: Paperback, 242 pages, 6" x 9"
ISBN: 9781606130209
Price: $22.95

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2012 Readers’ Choice Awards Winner: Favorite New Special-Needs Parenting Book

2011 ForeWord’s Book of the Year Award Finalist: Parenting category

Down Syndrome Parenting 101 is a savvy book for parents, grandparents, teachers, and anyone who shares life with a person with Down syndrome! It’s full of uplifting advice and best practices gleaned from the author’s personal and professional experiences raising a son, now an adult, and teaching educators and parents how to teach children with Down syndrome to read.

Down Syndrome Parenting 101 offers inspired takes on a host of important issues, from learning to recognize and celebrate your child’s personality and gifts to finding a great teacher for him, and from insisting your child pull his own weight to giving your child his space as an adult. The author—equal parts mentor, humorist, enthusiast, and realist—takes readers by the hand and walks them through the various life stages, experiences, and people they will encounter with their child including: getting to know and fall in love with your child, interacting with medical professionals, literacy, discipline, school, transitioning, and independence.

Chapters are short, a plus for busy parents, and can be read individually or sequentially. Throughout, many characters—the author’s son, friends, and students—appear, serving as anecdotal evidence in support of the author’s points and adding to the storytelling effect. As an added bonus, the book includes a Foreword by Martha Beck, parent of a child with Down syndrome and author of the New York Times bestseller, Expecting Adam. Turn to this upbeat book for credible, realistic advice and for a dose of bibliotherapy when you need validation and perspective.


"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,

"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

"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.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Martha Beck


1. The Yellow Raincoat
2. Unbutton That Raincoat
3. Getting Started

Essentials of Your Parent-Friendly Manual
4. Other Gifts
5. Honestly, Now
6. Intuition 
7. Nurturing the Parent

Beginning Years
8. Extraordinary Awareness
9. A Word about Doctors
10. Self-Talk
11. Read This: Literacy Is the New Norm
12. Your Personal Humor Coach

Discipline Years
13. Born to Rule
14. The Noncompliance Face-off
15. If All Else Fails, Try Being Real
16. How to Ruin Your Child
17. Communicating Emotions
18. It Takes a Crew
19. When It’s Not Down Syndrome

School Years
20. The Education Battleground
21. Student One
22. Student Two
23. Inclusion and Testing
24. Watch Your Language!

Wahoo! Years
25. The Transition Process
26. Traveling Alone
27. Dance Rocks

The Last Word
28. Dance and Drum
29. Epilogue 

About the Author

Natalie Hale is the mother of an adult son with Down syndrome. A national speaker on the topic of teaching reading to learners with Down syndrome for the last 24 years, she founded Special Reads for Special Needs in 2000. She lives in Los Angeles and continues to travel, speak, and teach across the United States and abroad.

Also by Natalie Hale:
Whole Child Reading

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