SAVVYkids | January 2022

Page 1

GREAT SCOTTS!

A SON WHO’S THE LIGHT OF HIS FAMILY


2022-2023 REGISTRATION OPEN As we prepare for a new calendar year, Pulaski County

PCSSD’s mission is to provide equity and excellence

Special School District is already thinking ahead to the

for all students through rigorous college and career

2022-2023 school year! A new registration process

readiness instructional strategies. We serve 27 schools

will be implemented for the next school year.

in Maumelle, Little Rock and Sherwood. Those 26 schools include 16 elementary schools, four middle school campuses, one junior high campus, four high school

2022-2023 REGISTRATION REMINDERS

campuses and an online K-12 school. However, pursuing the school choice option opens our schools to families outside district lines allowing students to be a part of

JAN. 3 - MAY 1

our school family, no matter their neighborhood.

Arkansas School Choice applications will be accepted

JAN. 10 - 28

Letter of Intent for returning students in Kindergarten 12th grade

MARCH 1

Online Registration opens for students NEW to the District (Grades K-12)

MAY 2

Office of Equity and Pupil Services will begin accepting permits

Beginning January 10, current PCSSD families can submit a letter of intent to return to the District next school year. Pre-K registration also opens January 10 for students new to the District. The letter of intent will replace the need for returning students to re-register this year. The letter of intent can be found at bit.ly/PCSS-22-23LOI. For families who do not live within the PCSSD school zone but wish to attend one of the schools, the Arkansas School Choice Act is an option. The Arkansas School Choice program enables a student in kindergarten through grade 12 to attend a school in a nonresident district. School choice applications are being accepted through May 1 this year. If you have specific questions related to registration and school choice within PCSSD, please contact the Office of Equity and Pupil Services at 501-234-2021.

ABOUT PCSSD Pulaski County Special School District spans more than 600 square miles in central Arkansas and requires highly

REGISTER NOW pcssd.org/register

skilled and passionate personnel to adapt educational policies and personalization to 25 schools. Every school is accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education. PCSSD has served schools across Pulaski County since July 1927. PCSSD is committed to creating a nationally recognized school district that assures that all students achieve at their maximum potential through collaborative, supportive and continuous efforts of all stakeholders.


JANUARY 2022 ACTIVITIES & FUN

Select dates in January. (1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15) GLOWILD

This magical event at the Little Rock Zoo continues through January. The array of silk-covered animal lanterns enchant and inspire all ages. Do not miss it! Visit littlerockzoo.com.

PARKS & REC The North Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department officially opened a new accessible playground at Laman Plaza, located at 2801 Orange St. in North Little Rock! It improves access to play for children with disabilities and the more than 200 children and teens from surrounding neighborhoods who use the William F. Laman Library as a community center.

Through January.

PAINTING WITH A TWIST 400 N. Bowman Road, Ste. 32 There are also classes for older kids, ages 10+ and 15+, but the following family-friendly classes are designed for ages 6 and up. All begin at noon. Jan. 1, Sparkle Unicorn-Fan Fav Jan. 8, Pick Your Puppy Jan. 15, Drip Castle Jan. 22, Magical Pandacorn Jan. 29, Animal Crackers Series Visit paintingwithatwist.com.

Jan. 31, 7 p.m.

NICKELODEON’S JOJO SIWA D.R.E.A.M. THE TOUR Simmons Bank Arena JoJo Siwa’s show was originally scheduled for August 2021 but had to be rescheduled. All tickets purchased for the original date are still valid. As she made clear on her recent “Dancing With the Stars” stint, JoJo is all grown up; that said, she’ll still likely be bringing her vibrant, besequinned outfits, unrelenting good cheer, preternatural energy, outsized hair bows and signature side pony.

Jan. 27

Jan. 4

Reynolds Performance Hall, 10 a.m. (school matinee) & 6 p.m. (public performance) Schoolhouse Rock Live explodes onto the stage, updated for a whole new generation, with imaginative image projections and a rock ’n’ roll feel. The live performance revisits hits like “Conjunction Junction,” “Just a Bill,” “Interplanet Janet” and “Three Is a Magic Number.” Sure to be a trip down memory lane for parents, and pure fun for kids. Recommended for grades 1 through 5, tickets $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Jan. 16

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK LIVE!

NATIONAL SPAGHETTI DAY NATIONAL FIG NEWTON DAY Enjoy America’s favorite cookie, the Fig Newton (said no one ever).

Jan. 18

NATIONAL WINNIE THE POOH DAY

Jan. 28

NATIONAL KAZOO DAY AND NATIONAL LEGO DAY


HUNTER AND CARRIE SCOTT WITH THEIR THREE BOYS, COLTON, WESTON AND ASHER—LIFE IN FULL SWING.

GREAT SCOTTS!

A SON WITH DOWN SYNDROME WHO’S THE LIGHT OF HIS FAMILY BY KATHERINE WYRICK

W

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRIAN CHILSON

hen we first talked to Carrie Scott, her son Colton was home with a double ear infection — something that would bring most adults to their knees, but he’s not particularly out of sorts about it. (“Paw Patrol,” which was playing in the background, helps.) In general, Colton, who has Down syndrome, is an easygoing, content kind of guy with an irrepressible spirit. “He doesn’t tell you anything until it gets really bad,” Carrie said. When we see him in person a couple of days later for photos, he appeared to have thoroughly rebounded. It’s a crisp late-fall day, and an expansive view of Pinnacle Mountain serves as the backdrop. Carrie and her husband, Hunter, wrangle two of their three beautiful flaxenhaired boys with the assist of big brother Weston, age 9. His efforts prove successful, and it’s evident what a kindhearted older brother he is. Asher, age 3, described by his teacher as “spirited and determined,” has a mischievous little glint in his eye but willingly settles in to take a family portrait. Colton, who turns 6 this month, follows their lead. Carrie told us that Colton was a surprise diagnosis at birth, so the learning curve was steep. She used to teach fourth through eighth grades at Northwood Middle School and Crystal Hill Elementary but resigned after his birth to fully focus her attention on him.

“We were so shocked in the beginning, and my husband and I were just trying to research and learn everything we could about Down syndrome and all the health complications in order to take care of Colton,” she recalled. People born with Down syndrome often have other health issues, like heart and gastrointestinal disorders. “But Colton was very lucky,” Carrie said. “He didn’t even have to go to the NICU; he came straight home.”

“His growth comes in bursts, so we might go for a really long time and feel like we’re not making any progress and then boom. We’ve learned that we have to be consistent, offer a lot of repetition, and we just have to be patient — and trust the process.”


When he was just a month old, a team from Easter Seals visited the Scotts’ home to perform an assessment. Colton was evaluated by a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a speech therapist. “We were told early intervention is key,” Carrie said. She expressed a deep gratitude for that team and for the fact that they were able to start working with Colton as soon as they did. “At first he only qualified for PT because of his low [muscle] tone, but they gave us ideas on how to work with him at home for OT and speech. They taught us feeding techniques, how to work with his vision, get him to track ... I don’t have any regrets because we started at four weeks,” Carrie said. A therapist came to their home once a month, and between visits Carrie and Hunter would follow a program she’d given them. She said it was challenging to make him have “tummy time” because he would cry, but added, “we knew he needed to be pushed. Otherwise, he would just lie there and be content because he was the happiest baby. He never cried until you made him mad in PT!” Hard as that was to bear, they remained determined to give him the best start he could have.

A FEW OF COLTON’S FAVORITE THINGS: • Music • Singing (he got a microphone for Christmas) • Swinging

• Jumping on the trampoline • Luca (the inspiration for his Halloween costume) • School

Brotherly love

It was clear that there’s a lot of love among the brothers, and that they each have distinct personalities of their own. “When he was little, we could take Colton anywhere, and he would be so good,” Carrie said witha a laugh. “Now, our third one is not the same.” She joked that he “added the cayenne pepper to our family. He is the spice. He wants to do everything by himself. He’s the opposite of Colton.” As for his relationship with Colton, he’s assumed a kind of big brother role and that of helpmate. He encourages him with a sweet, “Come on, Coco.” Carrie said, “Colton learns a lot from him... It’s been so good for him to have a little brother.” Weston is equally attentive and shows a patience and sense of responsibility beyond his years. Whether it’s holding his brothers’ hands in the parking lot or playing a game, he’s ready to lend a hand, both figuratively and literally. Carrie made the decision not to tell Weston that Colton had DS because they wanted him to “love Colton for Colton.” At about age 5, Weston said, “Mom, it’s kind of weird that Colton is 2 and can’t walk yet.” (Colton didn’t take his first steps until he was 26 months old, which isn’t unusual for children with Down syndrome. His mother explained, “He’s very stubborn and was happy to sit. He didn’t care enough to do it, so we had to really motivate him.”) She was caught off guard by Weston’s remark and hesitated before answering. Her response was thoughtful and measured, “Little brother was born with something called Down syndrome. It won’t go away, and you can’t catch it. He can do everything you can do, it just takes him longer to learn.”

Taking the ACCESS road

In addition to family time, Colton also loves school, as do his parents. When they discovered ACCESS, it was a revelation. After touring it, Carrie and Hunter turned to each other with a knowing look. “We both felt, ‘This is where we need to be.’”


Helping Arkansas Children Since 1899

MethodistFamily.org

SAVVY kids

Colton started outpatient therapy there at 6 months old, and enrolled full time, year-round, at 18 months. It wasn’t easy for Carrie to let him go full time, but she knew she was acting in his best interest and finds comfort in the fact that he loves it and is thriving. During the pandemic, Carrie and Hunter were determined not to let Colton regress. With two other kids at home, however, and online school, she was feeling overwhelmed. She wisely realized she needed to cut herself some slack: “I can’t wear all the hats ... be a PT, OT and speech therapist.” She applauded ACCESS for its handling of the pandemic. In addition to being the right fit for Colton, ACCESS also has proved to be a real lifeline for Carrie. Her involvement with the school — specifically fundraising for their “Starry, Starry Night” event — has given her a sense of purpose. “ACCESS gave us his first steps, his first words...,” Carrie said, her voice imbued with gratitude. They also helped as Colton worked through issues like swallowing, which can be problematic for kids with Down syndrome (and a frightening ordeal for parents). “He would aspirate on liquids,” Carrie explained. “We had to thicken [his food] for years. It took him a long time to learn how to chew, and they were with us the whole time.” “That was one of the most stressful things as a mom — ‘How do you teach your kid to chew?!’” Choking was a constant concern, though having Colton’s tonsils and adenoids removed helped resolve the issue. Speech was also a concern. At age 6, Colton speaks very well, in large part due to the early measures taken by the Easter Seals team and his parents. They worked to strengthen his facial muscles, which was, in part, accomplished by forgoing sippy cups for special straws.

PLAY BALL!

His brothers and parents are Colton’s greatest cheerleaders in life and in the stands. Last year he was able to participate in Miracle League*, and his family encouraged him every step (and misstep) of the way. Foul ball? They celebrated the swing. Refusing to run? They applauded the effort it takes to just show up. “Sometimes he cooperated, sometimes he didn’t ... but he enjoyed it,” Carrie said.

PUBLISHER BROOKE WALLACE | brooke@arktimes.com EDITOR KATHERINE WYRICK | katherinewyrick@ arktimes.com SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE LESA THOMAS ART DIRECTOR KATIE HASSELL

FIND MORE AT SAVVYKIDSAR.COM

Trusting the process

Carrie marveled at how Colton continues to amazes them with what he knows and understands. But she was quick to point out that the path isn’t always well-defined and linear. “His growth comes in bursts, so we might go for a really long time and feel like we’re not making any progress, and then boom. We’ve learned that we have to be consistent, offer a lot of repetition, and we just have to be patient — and trust the process. “I always tell myself, progress is progress no matter how small. I just want to keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter how fast, as long as we’re growing.” After Carrie gave birth to Colton, their pediatrician came to them in the hospital and said she was 99% sure he had Down syndrome (a blood test soon confirmed that he did). Her advice to the shocked parents was, “Don’t treat him any differently than your other children.” Carrie said, “That has always stuck with me.” They adopted this approach early on. She said their philosophy is that “Colton is a little boy and he’s going to do what his brothers do.” That doesn’t mean that there weren’t and aren’t struggles. Carrie shared that there were times she’d leave a tumble ’n’ play class in tears because of how far behind Colton was compared to the other children. “But I’d tell myself, ‘You can’t not take him because it makes you


sad. He deserves to get to go, too.” Initial milestones were very stressful, and she would despair when Colton would score low on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire at the pediatrician’s office. It taught her, however, the crucial lesson that “Colton is more than a score on a piece of paper.” She came to accept that he wasn’t going to be on the same trajectory as typically developing children, and that she couldn’t waste time worrying about it. “I knew I needed to focus on how far he’s come.” She sees her goal as a parent as this: to teach Colton to read and write and become a contributing member of society, to help him find something he enjoys and do it. She and Hunter look forward to seeing what that is. “He thrives on routine, and someday he’s going to love having a job.” She expressed her ultimate wish, however, as follows: “I just want him to be loved and accepted and feel like he belongs.” At age 6, Colton is a kid who’s bright and curious. He knows all his letters and numbers. As his mom said, “He’s just a little boy who wants to be accepted and included. And he is so much smarter than people think. Just because he can’t always verbalize what he’s thinking doesn’t mean he can’t understand.” He’s made great strides physically as well. He can walk, talk, run, jump and swim (almost) independently. He even enjoys tubing at the lake. Carrie wanted to give a big shout out to Safety Before Skill Swim School. “They are amazing!” Colton has taken lessons with a special needs instructor there since he was 2; they taught him how to hold his breath and blow bubbles, hard-won skills for a child with Down syndrome. “It’s a huge blessing because we’re water people and at the lake a lot.” Colton doesn’t have a problem keeping up with his adventurous parents and active brothers. Their attitude, Carrie said, has always been, “C’mon, Colton, you got this!” They even plan on taking him snow skiing. “We want him to do what we do. He does not limit us.

He’s happy, go with the flow, and wants to participate. He doesn’t see himself as different or special.” Carrie was quick to add, “Kids with Down syndrome are all so different from each other. Yes, they share some similarities, but they all have their own personalities.” Reflecting on Colton’s presence in their lives, Carrie said, “He is such a joy. His smile is infectious. People are just drawn to him. He makes our family happy. He teaches us to slow down.” He’s especially taught his mom how to chill out “a lot” and focus on what actually matters. “I love and appreciate all of my children for the way God made them. And they’re all different and unique. And they’re all going to do great things.” Carrie left us with this bit of wisdom, and it’s one everyone could do with heeding: “Patience is the name of the game.” And fortitude. “Don’t ever give up.”

CARRIE’S GO-TO RESOURCES:

(all have Facebook groups) • Arkansas Down Syndrome Association (ADSA) • Arkansas Down Syndrome Network (ADSN) • Buddy Talk • Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition (DSAC) of Arkansas • Gigi’s Playhouse Little Rock (Down Syndrome Achievement Center) • Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network (DSDN)

FOR DADS:

www.dadsofarkansas.org/our-mission

PROFESSIONAL BALLET COMPANY OF THE STATE OF ARKANSAS | 501 (C)(3) NONPROFIT

Confetti

10TH ANNUAL TURNING POINTE GALA Bob & Betty Brinkley Harrison, Chairs

March 5, 2022



YOUR CHILD’S HEALTH IS A BIG DEAL. Our Promise: Unprecedented Child Health. Defined and Delivered. Arkansas Children’s is the state’s only health system built just for kids. By working within the communities we serve, it’s our mission to make children better today and healthier tomorrow. We are Champions for Children where they live, learn and play. 501-430-3142 | archildrens.org

#championsforchildren

MEET LAMBERT: VETERAN, RUNNER, COMMUNITY BUILDER “Seeing that people could continue on with life as an amputee was pretty encouraging.” READ MORE ABOUT LAMBERT FOSTER AND HOW HIS LIFE HAS CHANGED SINCE DESERT STORM AT SNELLARKANSAS.COM

RESTORING MOBILITY AND INDEPENDENCE SINCE 1911

800-342-5541

Little Rock n Bryant n Conway n Fayetteville n Fort Smith n Hot Springs n Mountain Home n North Little Rock n Pine Bluff n Russellville