We all know that Facebook has a front and a back. Front: a way to keep in touch with friends and family. Back: a potentially endless time-suck. We know this, and we both appreciate and deal with it. But what I never expected–ever!–was that Facebook would give my son a better way to communicate.

Articulation + Stammering = Listener Headaches

My son Jonathan (32, Down syndrome) not only has articulation difficulties, but has a serious stammer. Alone in his room, when he’s talking to himself, no stammer. But with others, especially when he’s excited about what he’s saying (which is most of the time), both speech and communication are agonizingly slow because of failed repetitions. I thought this would be his/our communication problem forever, but…

Enter Facebook

Sooooo proud of his favorite tool!

Sooooo proud of his favorite tool!

I wrote previously that just a few months ago, by some mysterious and glorious power, my son Jonathan suddenly started to actually use the Facebook page I put up for him 2 years ago. He actually wrote on my page, and I was delirious, thrilled.

Those of you who have followed me for some time know that I taught Jonathan to read when he was 5, and I will be forever grateful not only for that, but for his high school teacher who later solidified his spelling skills.

So, as far as online skills go, Jonathan’s got this covered: Reading and Spelling? Check. 

But now he’s gone on to phase 2…he figured out how to message me on my page.

That has led to a stream of real-time communication through Facebook Messenger which we don’t often see in real-life, face-to-face communication with him. Communication difficulties are due in large part to stammering and poor articulation, but also due to what I might call “Down Syndrome Default Buttons,” those (poor) established habits of communicating verbally.

Tossing the Conversation Ball Back & Forth

I am beyond thrilled: instead of listening to him struggle, stammering a simple phrase 10 or 12 times, he simply types what he wants to say. I respond, and he responds back. There is no stuttering on a keyboard. Glorioski!!!playingball-web

That’s not the only thing that has changed; he is actually using language in a way that he would not normally use in face-to-face speech. Example:

He typed that he wanted me to give him a certain music CD; he had asked this repeatedly, so I wrote back, “Yes, Buddy, it will arrive in May. Just be patient.” If this conversation had been face-to-face, he would have done one of two things: either given an exasperated sound, or a disgruntled, “Okay, fine.”

But that didn’t happen.

He typed back, “I am patient.” Now, whereas the veracity of this statement could be argued in court, he nevertheless responded in perfect grownup English. This is new territory for him. Wahoooo!

Thinking back to my last blog, “Do our kids have to plateau?”, this reiterates the fact that our kids can keep right on developing! 


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Start teaching reading at any agesee our new book, “Whole Child Reading: A Quick-Start Guide to Teaching Students with Down Syndrome and Other Developmental Delays” WCR Cover

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