About Us

The Open Books Open Doors project provides free literacy screenings for Connecticut children with Down syndrome in pre-school through grade 3 as well as resources for parents and teachers on best practices in literacy instruction for students with Down syndrome.

Project Director is Dr. Kathleen Whitbread from the University of Saint Joseph (USJ). Project Photographer is Mallury Pollard of Mallury Patrick Photography. Thanks to all the USJ students who contribute their time, talent and energy to making this project a success!

19 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Thank you for all you are doing! My daughter turned 2 today!
    I would love to learn more about the resources you have for parents based on your research. I am homeschooling our 4 year old and plan on doing so with our 2 year old.
    The pictures of all of the children on your site are beautiful!
    Thanks again!

  2. Hi we have just recently moved to New York from Connecticut and I am thinking of home schooling my son who is 12. I would love to learn more about your programs. Thank you so much

  3. Hello! It has been a while since I made it back to your site. Thank you for the material you sent us! Both of my children love the children’s book you sent as well! Although my youngest with Down syndrome is 2 1/2, I am looking forward to when I can meet all of you when she is ready for a reading evaluation. Keep up the wonderful work and the wonderful pictures!

  4. I love your blog. It is very informative. I just started a blog about Ds. My son is 13 months. I have a background in Early Childhood Education. My master’s is in Applied Technology in Education. Are you affiliated with any other groups for Ds? I am planning to write a book for parents about Early Intervention and activities parents can do with their children. Also, are you familiar with the Orange County Learning Program for Ds preschoolers?

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I would love to read your blog if you want to leave the address. I am a member of the CT Down Syndrome Congress and also follow many of the national groups (NDSS, NDSC and the Down Syndrome Education International. It’s funny you should mention the Orange County Learning Program. I am part of an online group and we are going to be participating in an online pilot for the program beginning in a few weeks. If you email me I will send you more info (kathleen@openbooksopendoors.com)

  5. I am so excited to learn about you. I moved to west hartford 3 years ago. I have an 18 year old son with DS. I would love to find out more about your program. I am a physician and am very interested in DS. I look forward to hearing from you.

  6. I am a public school teacher in a high school, I have a 16 year old DS child who is in my FACS Child Development class for transition education, to learn life skills to someday work in a preschool setting. I am looking for help and assistance in transition education. Your site looks helpful when reading picture books aloud. please contact me.

  7. I am a parent of a child in England who is 12yrs and has Down syndrome. I would like to know how to help him with his reading. I believe he has a dyslexic profile. I cannot find professionals here who know where to start with this.

    1. Hello Lucy,
      There is actually a wonderful resource in England called Down Syndrome Education International. They have been pioneers in reading instruction for children with Down syndrome. This is a link to their website where you will find contact information: http://www.dseinternational.org/en-gb/contact/ They are located in Cumbria.
      Best of luck and let me know how it works out.


  8. Thank you for your website! I have a 7 year old with DS. He loves books. It is clear that his teachers are struggling to figure out how to approach teaching Reading to him. He is expanding vocabulary with sight words, however decoding is very challenging. Is there curriculum(s) I could suggest for use at school? Perhaps one that has computer/iPad reinforcement activities? His teacher seems great, and utilizes ReadWell curriculum with him (and other students in small group) right now. However, she conducted recent evaluations and found he has not made much progress 😦 I know he needs direct, one-on-one, systematic instruction from a well-trained teacher. What curriculum and/or resources would this teacher utilize. (Oh! And how do I convince the school to give one-on-one instruction and provide adequate resources and training to the teacher? 🙂

  9. Tracy–thanks for writing! Children with DS respond to the same evidence-based methods used to teach reading to children with dyslexia. These programs incorporate systematic, direct instruction and multi-sensory techniques to teach phonics skills. Many such programs are based on Orton Gillingham (OG) methodology and include Wilson, Project Read, Slingerland, Preventing Academic Failure, etc. Here is a link to a short article that explains how these program work: http://www.ldonline.org/article/6332/

    As you mentioned, it is important for the person providing instruction to be highly trained in teaching reading to struggling readers as well as adapting curricula for children with DS. It can be difficult to find one person with both skill sets, so in many schools, the general education or reading teacher collaborates with a special educator to design individualized reading programs for students. At age 7, I would guess that there are other children in your son’s grade who are struggling readers. If there are 2 or 3 children working at the same level, a small group can be as effective as one-to-one instruction.

    One of the most important things to know about phonics instruction for struggling readers (including students with DS) is that they will need intensive intervention–ideally, an hour a day of direct instruction (in a small group or individually) 5 days per week. While this can be a hard sell, there is extensive research to support it–check out the Research tab on this site. I am in the process of updating the literature review and hope to have that finished by the end of the year. Sharing this information with schools can be an effective way to gain support for an individualized reading program for your son.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  10. Hello My name is Latasha,
    First like all of the others I want to thank you for this site and information. I have a 11 year old daughter with DS and I have been struggling with how to get the right reading program and or teaching method for her. She is not in 6th grading and attends a public charter school and because she is on the higher end of the spectrum, educators do not seem to know what to do to help her move forward. Your blogs gives a lot of simple ideas that as a parent presenting it to teachers just does not seem to stick. I would love to get more information about what your program is about. Thank you again for a clear and new start this information will really help.

  11. Hello,

    I have a 12 year old daughter with DS. I have homeschooled her up until this past year, but felt it was time to strengthen her weak social skills. She is reading a bit but struggles as you describe in your posts. Her sight word vocabulary is approximately 100 word and does some decoding. When tested she’s at a 1 grade level for reading. For the past 2 1/2 years I have used a curriculum from Excellence in Writing because it was multi-sensory however I feel like we are stuck and I do not want to give up teaching her to read. Is there a specific reading program that you recommend even for an older child? Thank you for your time.

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