- Washington School District
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All Children Can Learn if Given the Needed Supports
Her smile is contagious and her persistence is evident. Raelynn Cox, a 9 year old girl who was born with Down Syndrome, may have had delays in development, but, she is progressing at a steady pace with help from her family, teachers, and therapists at Washington Park Elementary.
Raelynn and her brother Bobby, Jr. who is 7, live with their grandmother and uncle in Washington, and see their father as much as they can. According to Virginia ”Nanny” Cox, her grandchildren play together and keep things active for her, their Uncle Tommy, and chihuahua, Mason. Mrs. Cox said, “It is hard for me to believe that when she was born, doctors said she would never walk or talk. She has fooled them all. She used to slide across the floor on her legs before she had physical therapy to strengthen her legs and learn to walk. Her therapists, Eric and Margie, came several times a week to assist with early intervention therapies in teaching her how to walk, run, and even use the bathroom. …everyday things most children take for granted.”
To see Raelynn as she is now, one would never guess she truly struggled in learning to walk. She was busy hopping around the house with her brother and watching cartoons, imitating the characters’ movements in the Ladybug cartoon. Mrs. Cox said that Raelynn loves to imitate them and their motions, so she continues to learn when she’s not in the classroom. Raelynn said, “I love to dance and sing.”
Down Syndrome is a genetic condition caused by having an extra chromosome 21, which then results in developmental delays of varying degrees. A baby with Down Syndrome can be found in about 1 in 800 live births. But, as Mrs. Cox also added, genetics may have helped with Raelynn’s love of singing and dancing. She said Raelynn’s grandfather and her late husband, Harry Cox, once sang with Little Anthony and the Imperials, so “maybe Raelynn’s musical talent comes from him.”
One of Raelynn’s favorite subjects is art. She loves to draw, and as in most children’s homes, the artwork makes its way to the refrigerator for display. She proudly showed off a glittery poster with her name on it she made in class for Valentine’s Day.
Raelynn’s different life skills are covered by teachers and paraprofessionals, as well as weekly sessions for occupational, physical, and speech therapy. However, the majority of her day is with Ms. Rebecca Myers Matson who is thrilled to teach Raelynn and see her learn new things. “Her progress is steady and she is reaching her goals. She has made great progress in her Math skills this year.” Myers-Matson also said that Raelynn is persistent and has a bit of a stubborn side at times, but being persistent has helped her. “She doesn’t give up. She keeps trying and improving.”
Her teacher also confirms Raelynn’s love of music and dance. “When we watched Beauty and the Beast, she knew all the words to the songs and moved with them. She told us that was her favorite movie.”
Steady progress in development, and an attitude to not give up, have shown that despite having Down Syndrome, Raelynn is a typical child who enjoys what most children her age enjoy – singing, playing, dancing and art. She works hard to learn and to please the adults in her life who are working with her to be the best she can be. Her attitude teaches others to be willing to keep striving for what you can be, regardless of your obstacles.
World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is recognized on March 21 each year. It is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. The March 21st date was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. Down syndrome (or Trisomy 21) is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are “packages” of genes in the body. They determine how a baby’s body forms and functions as it grows. Down syndrome occurs naturally – there is no known cause. Down syndrome usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues. People with Down Syndrome should have the same opportunities as everyone else such as rights to be included and accepted in communities. To learn more about World Down Syndrome Day or Down Syndrome, check out the organization’s website at: https://www.worlddownsyndromeday.org/. On March 21, 2023, Washington School District will be recognizing and building awareness about students with Down Syndrome, by celebrating our own, Miss Raelynn Cox.
Posted: March 2023