Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Development Updates

This is going to be one of those blog posts where I feel conflicted about how much information to give. I had initially started this blog as a place to celebrate my daughter and track her achievements, solicit advice from my peers and open a window into our lives for those friends and family members who don’t live nearby. I viewed it as a “safe place” to do those things, without feeling like I was bragging about Samantha’s accomplishments when I was just simply excited about them. The more readers I have, the more sensitive I become, and I really, really, really don’t want to put anyone off, and certainly hope that some of the things I talk about that we work on with Samantha will help or inspire others who may be going through similar things. That being said, for all the things I’m so proud of, there are areas of her development that frustrate me, which I also won’t hesitate to mention. Oh, and I also don’t want to bore anyone to tears, either… You guys are all really valuable to me--I’d love any feedback!

So now for some updates on Samantha’s development, since I haven’t really posted anything lately.

Sammi has been working very hard on sentences and sentence structure lately. In her private speech therapy, the therapist lets her pick out what toys she wants to play with, then they talk about the toys and what they’re doing. I guess I was always so wrapped up in having Samantha learn the words with correct pronunciation, I never really thought as much about really working on the exact sentences themselves. The therapist gave her a paper with four photos of people on it, and Samantha is encouraged to tell what the people are doing in each photo, such as “Riding a bike,” “Clapping hands,” “Dancing” and “Kicking a ball.” She’s able to do them easily. It’s odd, but Samantha has somehow understood the present participle (“-ing” words, mainly) for some time now (at least 6 months, if not longer), without having been taught this important principle, probably initially through mimicry of what we say (“oh, it’s raining!” or “the baby’s crying.”). She’s never gotten it confused with the use of regular verbs, and will issue single-word commands correctly (“Go!”, “Stay!”, “Cry!”). I’ve been quietly amazed by that, but now am more publicly amazed as she begins to add in the useful and important words such as “and,” “is” and “the” to complete her sentences. She likes to skip over those in favor of what the therapist calls the “meat words.” I know I’ve gone on about this before, and do apologize for sounding like a broken record, but when I look back to 6 months ago, she was barely stringing together multi-word sentences, and was still skipping the first letters of many words.

Gross motor skills are another point altogether. I think the fact that we’re somewhat over-protective parents (hey, she’s our only child—what can we say?), constantly telling her to slow down, don’t run, be careful, etc. We don’t quite trust her not to let go while on a swing, or to take the stairs on her own, or even to run without falling down. I know that for certain things we just need to give her a little bit of leeway to explore and discover her limitations on her own, and at 3 ½ years old, she definitely wants to do just that. She likes to control her environment. But we also need to encourage her to be more active. She’s a big girl, and just going to get bigger if we’re not careful, if you know what I mean. When we take her outside to play, she spends only a minute or two out there before heading for the stairs to go back inside (“Home!” she’ll say). At the playground she is incredibly tentative on the equipment, shying away from trying to climb ladders, etc. Just like her mommy, I think. I was never one to take risks, and have memories of me at 6 years old throwing a hissy fit at having to load onto the ski lift and ski down the bunny slopes, even completely attached to my instructors. But I have to remember, I did get over that, eventually. Sammi also doesn’t know how to bounce from her knees. I know she’d absolutely love it if she tried it, but I think this is a time when we may need to modify her IEP to address it. Her new orthotics have been helpful, and she seems to have more stability through her feet and ankles. Hopefully she can continue to progress with them.

I really have rambled a lot in this post. Maybe I’m just making up for some lost time. I had planned last year on doing the 31 for 21 blogging for October being Down Syndrome Awareness Month, but never managed to pull it off. There is always next year.


Dawn said...

I don't think you should ever worry about offending anyone about what you write as this is your place to put down how you feel. (If you've read my un-pc post, you know I'm all about being open.)

Anyway, I'm happy to hear of the strides Sammi is making in speech. I am the mother of someone considered "non-verbal" because she only has a few words that are intelligible to everyone. However, I love hearing about the development of others. I know my daughter doesn't have DS, but b/c she has a Trisomy, I most often identify with DS families as there are more of them than there are families with my child's Trisomy.

Okay, sorry for being so long winded. I enjoy your updates on Sammi's progress. Thank you for sharing them.

Sarah Heegaard said...

I enjoy your posts because they are "real" - the good and the frustrating. I've learned a lot about DS from your blog and have sent some friends your way when they discovered their little boy had DS.

As you know, I also have a blog about Ryker. I started it as a way to communicate with friends/family about his day-to-day stuff. I've discovered that it really is for me more than anything else. It will also be for him one day - a visual diary of his childhood.

Remember, it's your blog, no one elses so write whatever you want.

Michelle said...

What a great update! I say share as much as you want!

How great with her speech and using the 'filler' words - Kayla still skips those a lot and just gets to the 'meat' of the sentence ... it's easier and quicker LOL