Friday, October 1, 2010

What I Have Learned So Far

In honor of Rachel, I will be posting everyday in the month of October to help bring awareness to Down syndrome.  Before Rachel was born, I had had very little dealings with children with special needs and was not sure what it meant to raise a special child.  I certainly am not an expert in the field today, but I have learned some things in the last seven years.

I have learned that these kids are individuals with their own ideas.  In the past I did not give people with Down syndrome the credit they are due.  I never really thought that they were unique, and I grouped them all together like so many other people do.  "They are all such angels," is one of the most common things you hear about our kids.  Well, they aren't.  They are just like any other kid with good days and bad.

I have learned that in general, children with Down syndrome will learn some things more slowly than their peers, but they really aren't behind in other things.  Rachel did not walk until she three, but she was swimming on her own when she was five.  Not to shabby for any kid!  She also was the easiest of my three girls to potty train.  Imagine that.  The better her speech becomes, the more I realize how much information she has soaked up over the years.  Just because she has been limited to communicating basic needs, has not kept her from taking in all the things that surround her.  

I have learned that kids with Down syndrome are amazing when it comes to some things.  Rachel picked up the iPad and within minutes knew how to operate it.  I struggled for a while with it (still do, sometimes), but not her.  I was wondering how or if I was going to be able to teach her how to use it, but turns out she didn't need my help.  It took us a couple of tries to figure out how to lock out some of the functions on the iPad.  We would think we had it done, but next thing you knew Rachel had figured a way back to the movies or youtube.  She has a memory that is amazing too.  She will recall something from months ago if she is placed in a similar circumstance.  When she becomes a better communicator she is going to be a walking archive!!  

I have learned that as a mommy, I am not good at letting my kids do things for themselves.  I am much too quick to jump in there and help Rachel get dressed instead of letting her do it herself.  I have learned that Mike is much better at teaching the girls to be independent.  I have learned that Rachel may not be able to do something on her own simply because I have not given her the chance.  Down syndrome may make Rachel more dependent on me, but I have to remember to give her the chance to show me what she can do.  

I have also learned to appreciate the accomplishments.  So many things that came so easily to my older girls, have often been a struggle for Rachel.  Despite the difficulties she does it anyway!!  I have come to admire all the determination that is packed into that little girl. If only I had that kind of drive. you, Rachel.  Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month!  Thanks for all that you have taught me and all that you will teach me.    

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