Workshop aims to help students with Down syndrome


The university offered a workshop Wednesday and Thursday that focused on mathematics instructions for students with Down syndrome and cognitive disabilities. 

Bernadette Wieser and Anita Hotter of the Down Syndrome Center “Leben Lachen Lernen of Leoben, Austria lead the workshops. The two "have developed a unique curriculum that enables people with Down syndrome to master simple arithmetic through the use of their hands."

The two-day workshop, “Yes We Can! Calculating with Left and Right,” met from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Dee J. Kelly Alumni Center.

"This is the first time that a program like this has come to the U.S., so I think this is exciting for TCU," Jacqueline D’ Angelo, a research assistant and coordinator of professional development at the ANSERS Institute, said.

The event was sponsored by the ANSERS InstituteThe Morris Foundation of Fort Worth and a gift in memory of Keith and Linda Reimers Mixson, former professors at the university.

Lindy Crawford, associate professor of special education and director of the ANSERS Institute, said The Morris Foundation provided the university with a $250,000 gift specifically for the professional development of local teachers.

The cost provided breakfast, lunch buffets and a toolbox that contained a training handbook to teach mathematics, wooden manipulatives and a DVD.

Wieser created the program after the birth of her daughter Nicola, and she said she and her husband changed their lives to help improve educational and working conditions for individuals with Down syndrome.

Wieser said she began her own mathematical teaching approach in her home with Nicola 15 years ago.

Wieser said she and her husband developed a Down syndrome training center in Leoben-Hinterberg, Austria, which assisted children with Down syndrome in developing in-depth reading and mathematical competences. In 2004, Wieser started the “Calculating with Left and Right” workshops to help the public.

“'Yes we Can' allows us to travel through Europe, including Denmark and the Czech Republic, Romania, Italy and Germany," Hotter said. "So Texas is really the longest journey we've done so far."

“It is a passion, and we love children with Down syndrome,” Wieser said.