Programs for Families at the Down Syndrome Association

Down Syndrome Association pic

Down Syndrome Association
Image: ndss.org

A teacher by profession, Douglas (Doug) Grant upholds a commitment to serving his community. Outside his work as a teacher, Douglas Grant supports the Down Syndrome Association, which hosts events and social groups for individuals with special needs and their families.

The Down Syndrome Association of South Texas (DSAST) offers programming for individuals of all ages who have Down’s Syndrome, while also providing targeted events for their parents, siblings, and communities. The youngest participants can engage in the organization’s music and movement program, which is available for children ages zero through five. The program welcomes age-eligible children with any special needs, including Down syndrome, and is open to their siblings in the same age group as well.

Starting at four years old, children with Down syndrome and other special needs can enroll in the organization’s tennis club, which features teaching from nationally certified instructors. There is also a swim team available for children ages 6 to 12, divided into two age groups. Participants ages 13 and above are welcome to the art club, cooking club, or Club UP!, all of which offer learning as well as social connections.

Programs are also available for family members of individuals with special needs. There are separate groups for mothers and for fathers, each of which combines community support and information sharing with fun and play. Meanwhile, the organizations’ SibShops program provides similar resources in an age-appropriate format for 7- to 16-year-old brothers and sisters of those with special needs.

Play Therapy for Children and Families

Play Therapy pic

Play Therapy
Image: play-therapy.com

Former teacher Douglas (Doug) Grant possesses significant experience teaching in Texas middle schools. In addition to his work as a classroom teacher, Douglas Grant has previously served as a school counselor. He currently uses these skills as a counselor at South Texas Rural Health Services, where he utilizes sensory integration techniques and play therapy in his work with families.

Play therapy is an effective way for behavioral health professionals to understand what a child is feeling. Children rarely have full control over situations in their lives, but they get to assume a position of power during play time. Toys in hand, they are free to act out emotional experiences with total control.

This is a powerful form of communication. Through free association, children who struggle to articulate feelings verbally can express themselves in a way that social workers and therapists can understand.

In filial play therapy, parents participate too. This method is becoming more popular, as it allows professionals to see how children relate to their parents during play. Play health practitioners can use this approach to help improve communication or understand other issues that may be occurring in the home.

Benefits of Play Therapy

Play Therapy pic

Play Therapy
Image: psychcentral.com

A former middle school teacher in San Antonio, Texas, Douglas (Doug) Grant has held positions in the Northside Independent School District. Teacher Douglas Grant currently works as a licensed professional counselor with South Texas Rural Health Services, where he utilizes sensory integration and play therapy techniques to offer substance abuse and behavioral health counseling.

An alternative to talk therapy, play therapy invites children to act out real-life scenarios using fantasy objects such as dolls, puppets, and drawing materials. The familiar activity of playing is one where the child feels confident and in control, and thus, they tend to express themselves best in this way. Typically, therapists give children the full freedom to direct their own play and actions. By cultivating a safe, empowering environment and creating a warm rapport with the child, play therapists encourage the exploration and release of problematic negative feelings. Play therapy can help children develop self-confidence and learn how to express themselves in response to real-life situations. It is a particularly helpful tool for children who have experienced issues such as family violence, grief, or a major change in their family situation.