With or Without the syndrome, Tommy has to be bilingual because my family doesn't speak English and my husband's family doesn't speak Spanish. My little boy doesn't have options! Tommy is not raised to be bilingual because he is growing up within two cultures and the spontaneous practice of two languages, English and Spanish.
Tommy is not the first child with Trisomy 21 who is raised in a bilingual family, and I am sure, he won't be the last one. I have been inspired for other parents who have raised their kids with Trisomy 21 in a multicultural environment where the kids with Trisomy 21 have learned more than two languages. Yes, more than two languages!. If you would like to know more about bilingualism in kids with Trisomy 21, click on Language Learning in Four Bilingual Children with Down Syndrome: A Detailed Analysis of Vocabulary and Morphosyntax.
For now, our target language is English; therefore, his Speech therapies are focused in helping him to speak English. Even although, he says three words in Spanish (bébe, tetita, and agua). He imitates sounds in both languages. Nonverbal communication skills are the foundation for the emergence of any language for all kids with or without the syndrome. Therefore, we are working on his nonverbal communication skills to strength his communication skills in both languages.
His Speech Therapist realized Tommy was doing the Spanish "R" during Tommy's jargon moments. He spontaneously learned the Spanish "R" sound just by listening. When we realized he can do the Spanish "R" sound, we asked him for the"R" sound because we are working on helping him to answer questions. See the video bellow, you will see Tommy rolling his Spanish "Rs".
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