A (New) Letter To Our Son’s Teachers On His First Day Of School

pre school down syndrome letter to teacher

Noah’s all “thumbs up” on his first day of school!

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three years since Noah first started to school (and we wrote our first letter to his teachers)…time really does fly!

A lots changed in those three years. Noah has a new little brother. He was grown in leaps and bounds. We moved to a new city. And Noah started a new school while we were on the waiting list for the school that he started today. Noah now attends a private Christian school that is 100% inclusive for the entire day (in fact, I believe Noah is the only child with special needs in his class.) At 11:50 the (short) bus comes and picks him up and takes him to our public school’s PPCD program (which is a program for children with special needs) and then brings him back at 3 pm. He is doing really well and really having a blast learning and interacting with his peers. We are so proud of our little boy.

My wife stayed up late last night working on a letter to send to school with Noah today at the private school he’ll be attending, and I’ve attached that letter below for anyone that may be interested in reading it. Feel free to share it / pass along.

Dear Teachers

I would like to take a moment to help introduce you to Noah. First of all we are so excited for him to be a part of your class. We know that he can present some challenges, but I think you will find that he is a welcomed addition to your room. He is able to wrap most teachers around his finger and the kids end up giving lots of hugs by the end of the day.

Noah has down syndrome, which means that he has an extra copy of his 21st chromosome. I don’t know if you have had the pleasure of knowing someone with Down syndrome, so I hope that you don’t mind if I tell you a little bit about what the means. Noah has certain characteristics which are common for children who have Down syndrome including upslanted eyes, low set ears, and being smaller than you would expect for someone his age. He also has hypotonia which means that he feels floppy. This however doesn’t mean that he is weak. He has developmental delays as well. His biggest battle right now is learning to talk. He has a lot to say but it is difficult to decipher. He knows several signs and has a growing vocabulary. He has difficulty putting words together in a sentence but is very good at “I want”. He works with a speech therapist and occupational therapist weekly. He will not be present on most Wednesdays because we will be at therapy.

He attends the preschool program for children with disabilities at [a local elementary] in the afternoons. The bus will pick him up and drop him off. He seems to really enjoy it, with his favorite part being the bus. When he started this program, it caused him to start skipping his nap. While he can survive without a nap, we did notice that he was a bit more sensitive to his friends and if frustrated would act out against them with pushing or biting. I think he was trying to communicate that he was tired. It is something to just be aware of when he returns in the afternoon.

He does really well in a group setting. He will mimic the behaviors of others and usually wants to do what his friends are doing. He is quite stubborn but understands choices. If you give him two options he will usually choose one. Distraction works for him as well. As mentioned he can be quite stubborn initially but with patience he will usually start doing what is being requested of him even it involves just sitting quietly with him for a moment. We understand more than anyone how easy it is to cave and let him do what he wants, however we hope you expect of him what you would expect of other children. His difficulty with language makes you think of him as much younger and that he doesn’t understand, however he understands the majority of what is said to him. If he does something he shouldn’t he will say I am sorry. He also knows thank you and please.

It is hard to know exactly what he understands when it comes to his letters, colors and shapes. He can match them easily, but he will not say them when asked. He will repeat what you say, but will not say them spontaneously on his own. He has difficulty with fine motor skills so has only recently started drawing circles. He works on these tasks with his occupational therapist. If you help him hold his pencil/pen he can do a much better job of tracing and writing letters, but on his own is just starting to be able to do this. He is also just starting to work on using scissors which is a difficult task for his hands. Repetition is very helpful for him. When it comes to songs, if you are a bit patient and slow it down he will try his best to keep up and do the hand movements and what not.

One challenge for us is potty training. He will go on the potty, however he has a hard time realizing that he needs to go. He does pretty good with a schedule. He however has come to enjoy putting his clothes in the toilet, so you will want to keep an eye on him. He finds it fun to change clothes, so he knows that if they are wet he gets to do that. While if his clothes are soaking, we understand changing, but feel free to leave him a little bit wet so he doesn’t keep doing it. We will start in pull ups here but we have a stockpile of underwear ready.

Down syndrome is only part of our son and we hope you get to know other parts of him as well. He loves books, trains and cars. He is a big fan of Buzz Lightyear right now and has always loved Mickey Mouse. He knows all the parts of Mary Poppins and Frozen. He loves to give hugs and has a contagious smile and laugh. Our view can be reflected in the way that we talk in that he is a child with Down syndrome and not a Down’s child. We refer to a child without delays as typical rather than normal.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have and are here to assist him in any way you think is needed. I hope these tips about him help you understand him a bit better. We again are so thankful that he gets to be a part of this classroom and are excited to see how he grows.

Thanks
Abbie and Rick

About to walk in to his new school for the first time!

About to walk in to his new school for the first time!

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.

Comments

  1. Noah is entitled to speech/ot/pt through your public school even if he goes to private school. You should advocate to get these therapists to go to the private school and give him the therapy there. (This is referred to as push in ) He should also get extra therapy like these by using your medical insurance. I personally have a young adult son with a speech delay. He got speech through school 3x week and our private insurance paid for one on one speech therapy once a week.
    He should have an IEP even in private school. Make sure they will work with you and his IEP. (been there done that)

    • Noah gets speech at his public school time and does his private therapy. He doesn’t qualify for other therapies through true public school system as of now.

      • Hi,
        I just want to share. My sons speech therapist of 2 months, told me my son doesn’t know how to make choices. My son is very intelligent. He knows how to make choices. I am devastated. I don’t want to remove him from the school. However, I immediately got up and went to their administrator and explained what the speech therapist had communicated to me.
        This statement surrounded me asking for a justification letter for baby signing time. when he starts making choices, I was told, then I could get a justification letter.
        O f course the administrator spoke with the speech therapists, who then called me after we got home. She went on to deny she ever made the statement “He doesn’t make choices”. This speech therapists went on to say I don’t write random letters to people I don’t know. Those DVD’s are expensive. I informed her All I was asking for was a letter stating that my son is non verbal and would greatly benefit from learning sign language. I was told we can talk about it on Monday.
        I replied I am actually at the peds office picking up a script for the entire signing time DVD, collection.
        My issue is this women is teaching my son. Is she going to do right by my child? For now I can attend class with him!

    • Shirley McMahan says:

      I believe it is a teach

  2. Hello, my name is Nicole and I just wanted to say I love your site. Noah is absolutely handsome. I am wishing him all the best today and always.

  3. i grew up in a very small town, Georgetown, sc. Our family doctor, who also delivered me back in 1946, had a son 1 year after I was born. Robbie had Down’s syndrome and the normal thing to do, back then, was to put these angels in institutions. Dr. John (Assey) was adamant that he and his precious wife and 5 other children would raise Robbie at home. He became the ambassador of Georgetown. Tourists were greeted by him, as a young man. He was given a hat and badge by the Police department and made sure that each storefront on our Main Street was locked at 5:30. He was loved by all and after his parents passed away, he lived with his aunt Janie until she passed away. He was put in an assisted living facility when no one else could take care of him. He passed away 2 years ago and the City turned out in droves for his funeral. I still miss him, but realize he lived far longer than he was expected to. Mainly because of everyone treating him like a “regular” boy and man.
    I love seeing Noah and your videos of how he is being raised. God has blessed you with two beautiful children, and blessed them with having you and your wife for parents.

  4. I smile, just thinking of “our” Noah. It is most wonderful of you to share him and his little brother with us. Noah has the most wonderful parents. Oh, that all those who have Down Syndrome might have such!
    God’s continued blessings to this loving family of four.
    hugs and blessings, Nani Jackie

  5. Our grandson Rudy has downs. I am so thankful for you and Noah (mom to) for sharing your story and allowing us to follow you on Facebook. Rudy will turn 2 next month and with you allowing us to follow your journey has helped us to know what and when to expect the next step in life. Rudy is a blessing and there are challenges daily but we wouldn’t have Rudy any other way. Good luck to Noah as he starts his new school.

  6. Deanne Prucha says:

    As a preschool teacher and speech pathologist, I would absolutely LOVE to get a letter like that from one of my student’s parents. It is just unheard of in my school to have parents that are as involved as the two of you are. I can’t begin to tell you how much I would appreciate getting that much insight into what one of my students likes, dislikes, their history of therapy, etc… You are both rockstar parents and Noah’s teachers are so lucky to be working with you!

  7. Jennifer dungsn says:

    I love your story and I love your son Noah. I wish I knew him. I pray Hod’s richest blessing on Noah and your whole family

  8. First off congrats to Noah on first day of school and big kudos to you guys for being great parents!!! I was wondering about advice on a similar topic. I have a 3 year old brother named Blade who has Down syndrome who just started preschool. Luckily his teacher sounds great but was denied an aid to help during his time there since he as well doesn’t speak at all. He is in a class room with other typical children and I’m nervous about Others not having patiences with him. I’m constantly worried about others mistreating him and with him not speaking how can he tell us if anything happened, sadly I don’t trust the world and my brother means the everything to me I wouldn’t change a thing about him and he has changed my life for the better but not everyone sees that but we don’t want to isolate him from the world either . Your stories have helped my family prepare for everything to come and any advice would be great thanks for everything!!

  9. Hi I live in n ireland and love reading about your beautiful son and his amazing family. He s a wee dote as we say over here. Keep up the great work you are doing in discussing and improving everyone’s thoughts about children with down syndrome xx

  10. Marcia Holman says:

    What a wonderful and helpful letter and should help his teacher know Noah in a way that she would have had to spend valuable time getting to know him. I enjoy your site and have enjoyed watching Noah progress. You are wonderful, involved parents and he is a beautiful loving little boy which I’m looking forward to see what he does in life. I so excited for him! It will be a great year with many new discoveries. Love, Marcia Holman

  11. I’m so glad that Noah is doing great and starting a new school, I’m so happy being part of his journey, I’ve been following his story all the way from Kenya,Thank you for sharing Noah with us.

  12. thank you for advocating for your son and encouraging parents around you to do the same!
    Have you heard of PECS? I taught individuals with Down Syndrome for years and found this to be the most successful in developing reciprocal communication and eliciting verbal speech sooner.
    Best of luck to Noah at his new school. I know he is deeply loved and fiercely prayed for!!

  13. I really enjoy your posts or your family noah and his brother are lucky little boys so I want to say thank god for you and mom for being regular parents and I love the letter to the teacher every kid I have ever known love to play in the bathroom me incuded lol so god bless all of you keep smiling rose riley Elmira new york

  14. Noah is so cute- as is his little brother. My eight yr old Jackson (Jack) has DS and has been in school since he was three. He loves school and his aide and therapists. I wrote the same kind of letter three yrs ago and this year too, when he got a new aide.
    Good luck to Noah at his new school. i enjoy reading posts from noahsdad.com-nice to see other parents suggestions and opinions….

  15. Elaine Browne says:

    He looks so happy to be at school, he may have Down Syndrome but there is lot he could teach us.

  16. Hi! What a fabulous letter, I so enjoy reading how Noah is doing!
    I found your site after my friend gave birth to a beautiful little girl who unexpectedly had downs 20 months ago. Since then I have followed Noah’s adventures whilst watching Charlotte grow into a beautiful, determined, clever and spirited little girl. She is so wonderful and funny and truly special and I feel blessed that she is in my life! She has fabulous parents who invest so much time and energy into encouraging and nurturing her. She is just a joy!
    Good luck to Noah with his new adventure!

  17. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful and well written letter. My son Xavier has Down Syndrome and is 4yrs old. He has some struggles and achievements much like Noah. Its always a pleasure to see your posts and updates on how he is doing. I share the pictures with Xavi, and I tell him it’s our friend Noah. He always smiles big and says his name. So we send you, Noah virtual hugs from Xavi in Lakewood, Co(just south of Denver).

  18. Pandu Pratama Putra says:

    Hi Rick&Abbie(&Noah), my daughter Aliyya(2.5yo) also born with DS. We’ve learned a lot from your family’s experience. This letter will be another lesson we learned from you, thank you so much for sharing all of your precious journey with Noah.

    Warm hugs from Indonesia 🙂

    PS:i attached a pic of my beautiful Aliyya&his handsome brother Naufal 🙂

  19. We love your blog! As a mom to a 7 month old with DS I really appreciate your uplifting take on things! We will continue to follow Noah’s progress!

    Erin and Jack

  20. Hi Noah’s Mum & Dad,
    This letter is so amazing I never thought of doing this, which is such a great idea.
    I am Adam’s mum. Adam is 3 1/2yrs old and was diagnosed with downs Syndrome at birth. Still thanking god as he did not go through most of the hurdles attributed to the diagnosis. He tested negative for heart, hearing or visual defects and praying each day that he stays healthy and strong. At first I was afraid of what to expect when given the diagnoses, but my way of living is ” get to finding a way over this obstacle” .We live in Jamaica West Indies and acceptance of any difference is not easy. I grabbed for the internet and found you, which gave me a sense of peace that there is a way to work through this. I use your blogs to see where he should be and what he can do and how. I didn’t want to look at the typical child expectations and get disappointed. Thank you for sharing.
    That was 3 plus years ago, he started school/ therapies at 6months old and Adam has grown leaps and bounds. He still has low muscle tone, he can’t jump yet and not saying full sentences. Lots of words and personality though. He likes school and “School” loves him, he functions at his age level apart from speech. I do a lot of singing ind visual learning with him at home and he loves his tablet for puzzles and you tube. Sorry for just writing. We own our own business, so my time is limited to fit everything in and Adam’s time is sacred. Take care and keep up the GREAT! work. I attached a pic of Adam and Daddy at the beach.

  21. WTG Noah ,best of luck in your new school year,all the best to you and your family.

  22. Ok, I may seem like I’m acting like the Devils advocate here but I feel (just a thought) … my son will be 4 one day too and I love the idea of writing a letter to the teacher!! However, I don’t think it’s necessary to get into the actual physical features of trisomy21, that’s irrelevant. I would stick to what goals you have for your son and teachers will hopefully respond acccordingly. I’m in field of education.
    I think maybe writing a simple letter to the entire class is best. One that’s short and sweet, and can be read out loud to his kid “colleagues” 😉 The kids are the ones who need to welcome Noah. The teacher doesn’t care… however, I love the heads up on possibly getting tired easily. Hypotonia no one knows what that is. Lol jk I do. Anyways Ok…he bites? Remember he bites when frustrated maybe at home but kids act different in different environments, and MANY kids do bite. Let them (the teachers) do their job as teachers and reinforce the behavior. If what they figure out isn’t working, it’s not your fault.
    Also, in my opinion there’s a lot of negative language in that long teacher letter . All kids have “challenges” ALL. 4 year olds are challenged just for the simple fact of being four 🙂 they are still new to the world… all of them.
    I hope I’m not coming off weird… I just wanted to share a thought. Thanks for allowing space to share candidly 🙂 any thoughts?
    About us: My son Julian 16 months now. Found out in the c.section room diagnosed trisomy21 at birth, and life went on, I was told to grieve… we laughed because we couldn’t even pronounce the word trisomy. I instinctively celebrated instead. Grief was what I felt when grandma died. So I stayed away from Google (yep, I approached it with open arms on my own accord, and my son emerged as himself not as a textbook version of DS). I’ve never felt anything but proud of my hard working kid.
    Can’t imagine the day he’s off to school… yikes! Love following your journey, I’m new to it too.
    By the way, just stumbled on the post about drivers licensed people with down syndrome? Really? Now THAT is bad ass!!! It’s those questions you have in back of your mind… you really nailed it with this blog Rick. For that I want to say Thank You.

    Sincerely Shantal Sequeira

  23. Sarah Meredith says:

    Hi, my beautiful 19 month old son has Down Syndrome and I follow your posts as they are really touching and enlighten me as to what other parents are experiencing. I too call other children typical rather than normal as my son is as normal as can be. He is funny, cheeky, and as cute as a button.
    We are lucky, here in Liverpool, UK, he was referred to Speech and Language, Occupational and Physiotherapy all before we had left the hospital. We also have Portage, a specialised team of therapists to assist with cognitive play.
    This will all continue as he needs it and they will attend his nursery next year to do school visits. I have had to give up my work as a nurse to look after him, and to attend all his appointments, but I couldn’t be happier as I get to watch my son grow every day. Even if he sometimes gets me up at 5am! 🙂

  24. Nice letter. For a while, I thought you were describing our daughter, Christine. She’s now 27 years old, but sounds a lot like Noah on a lot of levels. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Sharon Maddox says:

    My grandson was born With Down Syndrome . He is the light of my life. His mother died when he was almost 6 so I look after him a lot while his Dad works . Your Noah sounds so much like him and I so enjoy your blog

  26. Stephen Thornton says:

    Hi Noa’h Mum and Dad. I love reading about Noa’h and the things he gets up to he is truly Gods special gift to you, most children with DS don’t get that chance and I am glad to have had the pleasure of knowing him even though is only through reading about him he is a great inspiration to other parents with DS children as a Christian I know one day I will meet him, I pray that God will bless you all and keep you safe. Lots of love in JESUS and a special hug for NOAH .

  27. Karen Gregory says:

    Our son Callum is our pride and joy. He mainstream to age 14.
    I think the letter to Noah’s teacher was a lovely idea. I love to read about Noah. Our son is now 21. He has a work placement and a girlfriend.
    I wish you all the best with Noah’s education . 😊

  28. Congratulations Noah on your first day at your new school! I love following your family and think your letter is a wonderful idea. God’s blessings to you all!

  29. Sonyth Huber says:

    Hi, I’m sure you guys have heard this a million times already but I just love what Noah’s dad has written, both this most recent post and all the others…I find it awesome that you guys aren’t having a pity party for yourselves or for your son but that (it seems) you see this more as an adventure, a challenge to be conquered, perhaps a bit bigger than other challenges but otherwise no different. Neither do you minimalize and say it’s nothing and there’s no problem, but you accept things as they are, try to deal with them, and with a positive and upbeat attitude. I imagine it’s not always easy and I’m sure there must be moments, like any parents, when you want to throw your hands in the air and say, I quit!! Get somebody more qualified! (As mom of three little ones I’m tempted to say this often!) Bravo to you both for hanging in there and for even having the guts to go for a second child! You guys are a real encouragement and a living testimony to the power of God’s love to change lives!!

  30. Boy how time flys i know noah will do great .. Also i miss cing u on f/b ..God Bless an take care

  31. I also have a son named Noah with DS, He is a 10th grader. He Loves the Lord, Music and playing basketball! He is a true gift from GOD! He humbles us all! Thanks for the inspiration!

  32. I so love Noah and this blog about him. He is so adorable. I so love how you are raising him. I had a nephew with downs and I also used to help in a day program with these kids. Their special traits are hugs and smiles. I know the love and joy they bring to everyone touches even the grouchiest of people. Keep this going. God Bless.

  33. Thank you for sharing about Noah’s educational program. I love hearing about your family.
    I worked Special Ed for 26 years and am a proponent of Inclusion. I pray that someday soon Noah will be able to attend only one school and receive all the supports he needs. It has been a long struggle.
    I commend Noah’s parents for their interest in sharing their story with so many others.

  34. I just recently started following, and God sent this blog to me just at the right time. After spending the last 4 years as a para to a student who has DS, my girl graduated to the middle school and I miss her terribly. She is fierce, incredibly bright, and capable in the classroom. I pushed her, and loved her, and am so proud of how well she is doing. When I visited the middle school with her, she put her hand up in the air and said, “I got this!” (A phrase I heard often.) While I love all students, I admit that my heart is especially wrapped around kiddos with an extra chromosome. Wish that I lived in Texas just to hang out with Noah!

  35. JOYCE STANTON says:

    I SO MUCH ENJOYED YOUR LETTER TO NOAH’S TEACHERS. OUR DOWN SYNDRONE GRANDDAUGHTER IS 2 MONTHS OLDER THAN NOAH. HER PARENTS ARE ALSO ADOPTING A DOWN SYNDRONE GIRL FROM POLAND IN A FEW WEEKS. GOD BLESS YOU AS YOU RAISE YOUR PRECIOUS LITTLE NOAH….AND HIS BROTHER!!

  36. Rejeana Wilkerson says:

    Hi, I have been following Noah and your loving family for some time now, I have to say he is adorable!!
    I have a cousin whom has a 4 year old little girl with DS and she is a joy to our family. Thank you for so unselfishly sharing your family💛💜💚

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