Thursday, October 30, 2008

The "Typical" Mistake

One of the first things new parents are told is not to compare their child with other children of the same age. Experienced parents, pediatricians and teachers will all say the same thing. Do Not Compare. Each Child Is Different. Each Child Develops Differently. This is especially true for parents of children with disabilities. When our children are born, we are only beginning the learning process. There's so much information to have to take in in such a short period of time, so many worries, so many plans to change and adjust (Holland, anyone?)...the list goes on. It's only natural to compare our children with "typically" developing children, as those are usually our only point of reference for how things "should" be.

Samantha has done very well for herself, since the time she was born. But, that being said, we have no other children to use as a reference and have very little exposure to other kids. This is a good thing! We did our research into Down syndrome and our blank slate outlook has helped us keep open minds about her development and the meeting of milestones. We celebrated when she would reach those milestones ahead of the posted averages.

So I guess I know why I'm still so surprised when I see her with "typical" children her age. Sammi and I had breakfast with my friend, Nicole, and her son, Ryan last week (Nicole, if you're reading this, please don't take this the wrong way--I'm just using you guys as a recent example!). Ryan and Samantha are only 4 1/2 months apart, but the difference is staggering. I left them that day feeling a bit sad, wondering if Samantha would ever speak in sentences, speak words that people other than myself and Steve could understand, be able to sit in the booth at a diner without falling off the bench onto the floor, talk about events that occurred in the past, talk about upcoming events with excitement, etc., etc., etc. When I see her with other kids, I wonder if the hugs and kisses she likes so much to give make her unusual. The "WTH!?!" reactions that the other kids have make me wonder if her affection is in part due to the extra chromosome (and a lack of boundaries), or if their reactions are just the normal reactions of kids to having a little stranger come up and hug and kiss them. Isn't hugging or kissing normal 2-year old behavior? I have no idea.

*sigh* I need a reality check once in a while, but I think the reality I need to get into my skull isn't the fact that my daughter is not developing at the same pace as "typical" kids; it's that I have to remember that Golden Rule about not comparing children. I know Samantha will do all of those things I was worrying about, but in her own time.

On another note, I LOVE and want Samantha's clothes, and LOVE to dress her. Sometimes I pick out her clothes the night before, just because it's fun.

Tomorrow or Saturday I'll post some pics of Sammi in her Haloween costume. :-)


Amber said...

First of are so in the majority. Second ...your daughter AMAZES me! I think that she is outstanding. (I know that you do too, that's not where I'm going):0)
Third...I know exactly how you feel. Minus the knowledge of the chromosome factor.

I can't wait to see the halloween pics...and the clothes? you know I love dressing Grace and your little miss can definitely have our pants when we are finished! :0)

JaybirdNWA said...

I agree that it is difficult for us as parents of children with Ds to see their delays until we step back into the "typical world" and it can be a discouragement when we are confronted with them. I try to remember that John is John and no one else. He will probably be more different than the rest of the world is different but I need to accept that that is how God made him. And God made him that way for a purpose which one of those purposes for me is to teach me a new way to love and what is important in life.

datri said...

Kayla's "atypically delayed" (not "high functioning") but is still in a regular preschool class so any time I visit her school the differences really smack me in the face. She's 4 1/2 now and it's just in the past few months where I've stopped comparing her to her "typical" peers, or even her peers with Down syndrome. It actually seems to help that she's severely "delayed" because I no longer feel the need to try to "catch up." Kayla will the best she is able to do on her terms.

Renee said...

We all have those kinds of days where we go out with a friend and our kid just doesn't measure up to her kid; whether it is a particular area of development or behaviorally. Or at least I have had them.

Carey said...

you know i was jut thinking tonight, how long will we be able to pull of the high chair at a restaurant move? five, six??? hmmmm. tonight we were at friends house and their one year old sat in a booster seat in a regular seat, but our almost three year old had to use her high chair! how i would love to be able to use a booster seat! (oh and that same one year old scowled when chelsea showed her overwhelming affection also!!! it might be the extra chromosome, but it's better than being rude and nasty!)

Carol N. said...

Hmmn. Not sure what to say, Becca. I've felt that way too, especially when people ask me how old Aidan is. My son, Kieran, was at a program called SibShops for siblings of kids with disabilities, and he came home the other day saying, "Aidan has Special Needs, and you know what that means? Special Needs, Special Deeds!" (Imagine that last sentence with a superhero tone behind it!).

Tricia said...

Alyssa chased the little boys around at day care and kissed them when she was 4. (nevermind that she's still doing it in high school) All kids just do their own thing.