One Intelligent Little Girl

Melody is making remarkable progress with her army crawling. At the time of the last post she was cruising along at about 20 yards a day. She has subsequently made it to 30…then 40… and recently 50 yards in one day! That, my friends, is half a football field. That would be a significant undertaking for anyone to army crawl half a football field (in high altitude no less), but especially for one as little as her. I am sure her military fans can appreciate the strength required to do this. 😊

As for Melody’s intellectual progress, she never ceases to amaze us. When she was born we were told she would be “mentally retarded”. I remember asking a nurse if that was a certain outcome or if it were possible that she might not be. She was a little sheepish in responding that she definitely would be. 

There is an inclination for most of us to assume a non-verbal child is a less intelligent child. It does a substantial disservice to our little non-verbal children. Their potential can tragically be overlooked.

Glenn Doman, in his book The Pathway to Wellness, notes that, “There is no relationship between brain injury and intelligence.” He goes on to say, “There is a significant relationship between brain injury and the ability to express intelligence.” His insight clarifies a crucial distinction. Anyone who has had a stroke understands this principle.

Children with an extra chromosome have the capacity to be quite intelligent given the opportunity to develop it. Glenn Doman teaches that the brain grows by use. Trisomy children typically do not have injury to the cortex of the brain, which is a great advantage as far as their intellect goes. Instead, they typically have injury in the mid-brain, which affects balance and speech. Thus, sadly there is often a presumption that they lack intelligence. 

We do not test Melody often. Glenn Doman wisely discourages that, as he notes that knowledge is a gift and should be given as such. Testing brings about stress and makes learning less joyful. Thus, we limit it. 

However, we have asked Melody some questions lately. We have three aspects of her learning: knowledge, reading, and math. For her knowledge cards we rapidly flash types of butterflies, instruments, flowers, etc. Melody’s sister was teaching Melody her states one day. She taught her 10 states rapidly for two days in a row. She showed Melody each state and quickly told her the name. She noted the state in which we live. On the third day she did not review the states. She held up two states and asked Melody, “Which state do we live in?” Melody picked the correct answer.

One day Melody’s sister held up two sentences for Melody. She asked her which one says, “The Lord is my refuge.” Melody picked the right one. Four times we have tested her on various sentences. Four times she has picked the right answer. She has never picked the wrong answer for reading. 

If we ask Melody whether she wants to do math or something else (learning cards, reading, etc.) she will pick math 100 percent of the time. We teach her with the Doman method in which we use cards with large red dots rather than numerals (which are abstract), so she can understand the concept of the numbers and fluidly move into adding, etc.

One day Melody’s sister asked Melody what is 48 (holding up 48 dots) plus 9 (holding up 9 dots). Her sister held up two possible options for the answer. Melody had not seen that particular problem until that day. Melody looked at one answer, then the other, back and forth a couple of times. She then picked the right answer. She flashed the most adorable little smile. She knew she was right. The answer to the next question was 27. Melody did not even look at the wrong answer. She picked 27 right away. We have tested her four times, and four times she has been right. She has never picked the wrong answer for her addition.

According to Glenn Doman you can teach a tiny child anything, including reading. The key is that the words must be sufficient size for the child to process, as their visual pathways are not developed enough when they are babies and toddlers to read small print. Therefore, we have used words that are larger than an average book to teach Melody reading. Even though her visual pathways are likely well developed now from all the reading she has done we still make her her own books. We have words on one page and a picture on the next. We often use Scripture as the content. She loves her homemade books! She appears to follow along and read it herself.

We realized we were holding Melody back by reading simple books to her. We have quite a few books that are about people in history. The book above that her brother is reading to her is about Francis Scott Key and is about 50 pages. She loves those types of books. She will happily read them in one sitting.

One book we read to her still that is more for younger children is Puppies for Sale. This is her favorite book and has been for quite some time. If you read the book you will understand why. It is read on YouTube here. She obviously identifies with the little boy in this book and she loves the priceless message. It is so sweet! She clearly understands.

We think nutrition is of utmost important for Melody. She eats an abundance of greens from our garden – kale, chard, endive, lettuce, and spinach. We mix it in a blender with fruit each morning for her. She loves it!

Melody’s verbal skills are improving. She used to be a vowel girl. Now she is adding in some consonants. She uses the “y” sound quite a bit. She has been saying “da da” frequently. Lately “da da” has actually turned into “Daddy” more than once! 

Derive what you will from all that. 😊 We think she is one intelligent little girl. We could not be any more proud of her!

Isaiah 41:10

“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Comments 23

  1. Thank you for these encouraging posts. Give Melody a hug for me.
    We love you all and so glad we got to see at least a few of you in Seattle recently.

  2. I so enjoy reading these blog posts. Thanks for sharing. You have a special family. And one beautiful, strong, and smart little girl!

  3. Ah, sweet Melody! So glad to hear of how strong and coordinated she’s becoming, and to hear about her educational journey. She is one smart cookie… and very lucky to have the family that she has. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. These pictures show just how much stronger Melody is – the way she stands in front of the sofa, how much stronger she looks crawling and sitting while learning her dots and adding and reading sessions. I am also impressed with the 50 yards – – – Oma and Opa will definitely not be challenging her to a race when we come to visit.
    Your blogs are always very encouraging and uplifting and we love to read about every accomplishment Melody is making.
    Proud Grandparents of the whole team.

  5. Your posts about Melody bless me! Thank you. What a beautiful testament she is to God’s love. She is indeed an intelligent, strong, loving, capable child. I am blessed, too, by her loving family, all of whom have given so much to her, each other and to those of us who are learning from you. Andrew, it is such a blessing to see the man of God you have grown to be. Amen!
    MaryAnn Fairall

  6. As always, Melody never ceases to amaze! I am sad that many people overlook potential without just cause or because of a diagnosis or term. Glenn Doman has helped us to make distinctions and to try to understand that there are no limitations.. Melody has shown us the highway and increased the speed limit. Her family has rid the roadway of hazards, and God has been in the driver’s seat. If she can army crawl 50 yards, we all can challenge ourselves in these uncertain times.

    There is another strong female I would like to tell you about. My husband’s mother was diagnosed, at age 85, with an inoperable brain tumor that is taking over the right hemisphere of her brain. Given three weeks to live, she has now passed that time mark. Rendered speechless and unable to eat, she writes her wishes and has figured out, on her own, how to trigger a reflexive swallow that allows her to get nutrition on a small scale. She walks every day, has visitors, communicates through eye expression, hand gestures and the strongest hugs you can imagine. We know that she cannot last forever in this state, but she has defied the odds and has a will to live that is undeniable. Melody, just want you to know that your strength has encouraged others. Keep up the good work!

  7. You have inspired me again, little Melody! I am challenged to see how these same principles might be used for very much older people as well. God is an amazing Creator and Teacher.

  8. I love this update. Learning is the gift of life. We are meant to learn and it is a joy to hear that Melody learns so much. That you receive the joy of instructing her and that she is so able to receive the lessons is really exciting. Thank you for sharing Jen. Hugs from the Jaimes. PS : It was lovely to spend what little time we had with part of your family in July.

  9. Very exciting to hear about your daughter Melody. She is doing very well. Our granddaughter, Janessa had trisomy 18. We loved her dearly and she is in Heaven.

  10. You and your family are the picture of God’s intentions for family and community. Thank you for sharing your family and love and for inspiring us all to do a little bit more.

  11. Melody is so cute, beautiful and amazing!! Your family blesses me more than you know. Your strength, determination and love for one another is truly admired. God is so good with bringing your family into my life. You have taught me so much in the little amount of time I’ve known you.
    I love you guys!! GOD BLESS YOU ❤

  12. Darling Melody, as well as your special family, continues to be a shinning reflection of the wonderous love of
    our gracious Lord!

  13. Another wonderful blog post for Melody the rock star! What an amazing little punkin’ and an amazing family as well!

  14. Melody is truly a wonderful gift to the Thenhaus family. We only wish that we could see you all more often as we miss you so much.

    Much Love
    Uncle Jerre and aunt Mary

  15. What remarkable progress this little Miracle named Melody has attained! It is a testimony to The Lord – He answers the prayers of the faithful! I praise Him for the wisdom and the hope He has continued to give you and your family! Jenn, you are your family are also an inspiration – it is your love, faith, hard work, and commitment to Melody that has allowed her to learn, grow, be loved, and thrive! Thank you for writing this blog and sharing your beautiful story with us! May our loving God continue to pour out His grace upon you and your family!

  16. Melody,

    I doubt you’d even know it but the little (Big!) things you do are a joyous inspiration to those who know and love ❤️ you

    You are a living testament of the wonders God can do, and each and every day they’re demonstrated through you

    Thankful for the blessings and putting perspective where it should be, just witnessing your strength and courage make life’s problems so small to me

    You’re a darling little sweetheart and an angel here on earth and may God continue His blessings as He has since the day of your birth

    I raise a hallelujah!

    *Thank you Melody and Family*

  17. As a medical student this is incredible to read. I remember learning about trisomy 18 for the first time in my genetics class last year, that it is a condition that is incompatible with life and all babies diagnosed die if not at birth than within a year. I first read about Melody’s story in the book Miracles We Have Seen and googled this blog because I was curious about the further developments in her story, thinking perhaps she had survived for a year or so. You can imagine my shock seeing a whole website dedicated to a thriving little girl nine years later! I think as healthcare workers when we hear the words “incompatible with life” or “genetically terminally” we inwardly wave the white flag and give up on a patient, but reading about how you advocated for your daughter to continue her ICU care and today she’s still alive and well…well I definitely wish we learned about cases like Melody’s to balance the fatalism we feel when faced with genetic disorders. I’m going to share this website with my genetics professor; I think he would definitely be amazed at Melody’s story. God bless!

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