Karen is 25 years old and has received her high school diploma from St. Mary's Academy in Portland, Oregon in 1997. Having completed all of the Oregon State requirements for a regular high school diploma. She completed requirements for an AS degree and a certificate to be a teacher's aide at Portland Community College in March 2001.
What's so unusual about that?
Karen also happens to have a condition known as Down syndrome. However, through the benefit of early intervention, Montessori preschool and kindergarten programs, tutoring, and a great deal of dedication on her part, Karen was able to participate fully in a regular classroom settings from her grade school years all through to her current experience in Community College.
Early intervention programs were a critical element and building block for Karen. She and her family began participating in these programs when she was about three months old. Her family was able to learn about how to work with Karen to help her reach various stages of development for gross motor and fine motor skills. They learned how important it was to interact with Karen, to read to her, talk with her, encourage and PRACTICE her development.
At about the age of three, Karen was enrolled in a Montessori preschool program in her neighborhood. The teacher was extremely helpful in communicating the areas of focus in the classroom, and helping the family with ideas they could use to continue working with Karen outside the classroom. By the time Karen entered the first grade, she was reading at the first grade level, doing basic addition, printing and phonetic spelling.
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