Understanding children with Down Syndrome
NURSERY rhymes within a university campus were an unusual occurrence but the special group of children which Monash University Sunway campus was playing host to, felt quite at home.
After two years of detailed planning, the first communication camp for Down Syndrome children materialised when 10 families learned how to better understand their child or sibling living with the disability over one weekend.
"All people with Down Syndrome can learn. They have important contributions to make to our community".
"They have dreams and aspirations like everyone else," said Prof Carl Parsons, a disability speech pathology educator at the Education Department, Melbourne, Australia.
The three-day communication camp was organised by Monash University and funded by the Rotary Clubs of Kuala Lumpur and Nunawading, Australia.
Parents learned how to use sign language to better communicate with their children while the children were taught to slow down their speech in order for their parents to better understand them.
Other group activities included morning exercises, helping to clean up after meals, singing and discussions on issues affecting children with Down Syndrome.
Twenty speech pathology students from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysiaโs Audiology and Speech Pathology School also participated in the camp, demonstrating therapy techniques to foster communication skills with the children.
Prof Parsons, Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria director Assoc Professor Bob Davis and the centreโs specialist disability lecturer Dr Judi Moyle led the sessions.
In over 20 years, Prof Parsons has run intensive multidisciplinary programmes for over 5,000 families with children with Down Syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, language disorders and learning disabilities.
For his contributions, Prof Parsons was appointed patron and life member of the Down Syndrome Association.
The idea for the communication camp was mooted by a specialist disability lecturer from the Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria, Dr Judi Moyle, who has had extensive experience with disability organisations and services in Malaysia.
"In one weekend, the participants learned what would otherwise take a whole year," she said.
The event was supported by the Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria located at Monash University in Melbourne, Malaysian Care and the Sunway University Residential College.
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Source: Email from: TSUCHIYA Michiko