“When Peter Nolan finished formal education at the age of 18, he discovered there were not a lot of options available to him.” Ailin Quinlan from the Independent.ie paper writes on the success of Latch-On with Down Syndrome Ireland.
Down Syndrome Ireland transforming lives in their country
Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI) is a national voluntary organisation supporting people with Down syndrome and their families in twenty-five branches nationwide. DSI represents and supports 3,500 members. DSI is dedicated to “being the primary source of information and support to people with down syndrome, their families and the professional community, working towards an improved quality of life for our members along with a respect and acceptance of people with down syndrome as valued members of Irish society”.
With this strong mission at heart, DSI has partnered with Latch-On in 2012 to offer further literacy education for people with intellectual disabilities after high school.
DSI commitment to the Latch-On program has been remarkable. The organisation has successfully trained teachers and tutors to deliver the program, and now offers the literacy, numeracy and technology program across 13 educational centers in the country.
How Down Syndrome Ireland transformed Peter’s life
“Peter, who has mild Down syndrome, originally attended a mainstream primary school and then a special second-level school, but his mum Breege says after that there seemed to be nothing in place for him,” said Breege, Peter’s mum.
Research has shown that some people lose their reading skills by their mid-twenties. So often we hear parents’ concerns about their child not having any formal education opportunities after high school. This means their children might gradually lose crucial skills like reading and writing: the “gold standards” literacy skills for all learners in our society.
“I was afraid they [his reading and writing skills] would begin to deteriorate,” recalls Breege.
Despite the fact that some studies found that people Down syndrome are able to master academic skills, and that some people not only retain skills, but continue to improve into the adult years, there have been limited post-school options for young adults. Post-school options were often short-term, unstructured and had very narrow literacy focus.
Latch-On filled the gap. The program is structured, based on multi-literacies and specific strategies, uses multi-media, and focuses on long-term results: reading, writing, vocabulary, comprehension, talking and more.
Hard work pays off.
Since enrolling in the Latch-On program, Peter has become an even more confident young man. He has not only dramatically improved his literacy skills but also his social skills: making new friends, socialising, starting conversations. Peter does not shy away from new challenges: he is now more relaxed, does his homework, reads comfortably, and even stays up-to-date with current news.
Technology is now a fact of our everyday lives. Technology is integrated into our homes, communities, social networks and workplaces. Digital literacies are therefore an important part of the Latch-On program. Peter has learned to use a computer and tablet in class to access the Internet, emails, educational software and games. As his mum puts it: “There is a lot of reading and computer work. He has acquired new IT skills and his literacy has continued to improve.”
Read Peter’s full story on the Independent website here.
This year Peter is looking into enrolling in a one-year Post-Graduate Latch-On program. This extra year consists of one day a week of the Latch-On Literacy Programme and a second day studying a Political Education Programme. Students become actively involved in the “My Opinion, My Vote” programme:
Literacy education for people with intellectual disabilities
Are you interested in becoming a Latch-On Partner? Email us now, we will be happy to answer any of your questions.
The Latch-On team