We had the privilege to participate in a conference organized by the Association of Parents of Children with Down Syndrome.  The conference was titled “How To Develop the Hidden Potential of Children with Down Syndrome.”  The motto for the conference was “One Extra Chromosome Unites Us.”

The conference was a great success.  Total attendees was over 200.  In attendance were parents with children with Down Syndrome, therapists, care providers, teachers, doctors, and orphanage workers from all over Bulgaria.  Presenters included a Developmental Pediatrician, Researcher, and Speech Therapist from Down Syndrome Education International (http://www.dseinternational.org/en/gb/), parents from the US that have biological and adopted children with Down Syndrome, and BRIGHT Children International.  We presented on Music Therapy and the various ways that Music Therapy can be used to address many skills for children of all ages and abilities.  Unfortunately, due to things starting a late, a common thing in Bulgaria, and the volume of information that everyone wanted to share, our time was shortened to an hour.  We would have liked to have more time and talk more in detail about how parents can utilize music in daily activities.

This was during one of our musical examples during our presentation.  We had the parents and professionals up and moving around as well.

While the other presenters were presenting.  We spent time doing music and interactive activities with the children with Down Syndrome that had come with their parents to the conference.  The children enjoyed their time.  As usual, the favorites included the guitar, big gathering drum and the parachutes.  One of the children, who has some Autistic tendencies in addition to Down Syndrome, when first introduced to the drum would only play it by taking other people’s hands but by the end of the time he was initiating playing completely on his own.  There were many children highly responsive to the music and displayed great cause and effect and sense of rhythm.

The conference was a great success.  Families were empowered with knowledge and ideas on how to assist their children in reaching their potential.  Professionals were given ideas and hear research on what is working for children with Down Syndrome.  May this be a season of change for Bulgaria.  Mindsets need to change and hearts be opened to what a child can bring to the table regardless of chromosome count, color of skin, medical condition, or special need.  I know I am blessed to be able to work and learn from these children on a daily basis.