Wednesday, July 25, 2012


It is a skill that we take for granted but one that doesn't come natural for our children with disabilities. With one of our goals being independence one day, my wife and I have been working with John on multiple skills and learning how to dress himself is one of those skills.

We began about 6 months ago with teaching him how to put his shirt on by putting his arms through the shirt first and then slipping it over his head. Once he got used to this, we moved into taking his shirt off. This was a little more complicated because it requires more steps. And that is what we did: break it down into steps for him. We still have to remind him of hand placement in order to pull his arm out of the sleeve, but other than that he is making positive steps in being able to dress himself.

Part this skill is learning to put away the clothes you take off. In this case, he was putting his pajamas back in his bed so he could wear them again tonight. He doesn't do this automatically, but then again neither do my other children. I tell him to pick his clothes up off the floor and take them and put them in his bed. He sometimes obeys and sometimes he doesn't. When he doesn't, we just take him by the hand and have him pick up his clothes and we then lead him to where we want him to put them up.

As for the shorts/pants, he can get them on. He sits down on the floor and slides them on, pulls them up past his knees and them stands up to pull them up. It is much easier for him to pull up the front than it is the back. But this is a work in progress.

I often catch myself starting to do this for him, mainly because I 'think' that my life should be so rushed that I don't have time to wait for him. But then I think of how we need and want to train him to live independent one of these days, and that doing things for him is not treating him fair.


Friday, July 20, 2012

John Loves Life

John's Pool-time (4 yrs old)

John enjoys life and laughter. We get a lot of enjoyment from seeing his enthusiasm and excitement for the simple pleasures of life. Let me encourage you to lay aside what the diagnosis, evaluations, and other people say about your son or daughter and go out and enjoy them for who they are.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's the Difference?

John will be 4 at the end of this month and we grow more in love with him every year that we have him. John had taught us all so much about life and relationships that we couldn't imagine our lives without him.

John is progressing well and making friends. He attends daycare 2 days/week with non-Down syndrome children and makes friends and is learning well. He now can identify 3 primary colors without being prompted and is making progress on the potty chair. Although he still wears diapers, he manages to keep them dry most of the day.

His favorite foods are pizza, corn, green beans, greens peas, apple sauce, chicken, grilled cheese and french fries. However his appetite for other foods are increasing. It used to be difficult to find something that John would eat, but now it is difficult to find something that he won't eat.

His favorite activity is to swim in his pool, play with his hotwheel cars, and ride his pedal car. He loves the water and has learned to put his face under the water and has a great time.He is also learning to play by himself and will sit in his room and play hotwheels by himself. He has also learned reciprical gait in riding a pedal car. When he first began riding this, he found that it was much easier for him to push the car backwards than it was going forward. But after working with him, he has now started to use reciprical gait pattern to push the car forward. Pedaling backward uses a childs hamstrings or back part of their thigh, while pedaling forward uses their quads or front part of the thigh. This is common when there is a weakness of muscles.

Due to the weakness of muscles, John has difficulty doing some things that other children his age are able to. But we try to keep him active so to use his muscles. His activities include going for walks in the neighborhood with Dad and Mom, riding his pedal car, jumpling in the pool, and I also have him do situps periodically during the morning and evening. Keeping him active takes more effort from us as parents as he migrates to the television and puts himself in a Disney movie if we don't keep tabs on him.

John is a great kid to have around. It has just taken us awhile to learn that he is on his own schedule of learning and there is nothing that we can do to change that schedule. And the more we try to rush things, the more frustrated that we will stay. So to all you new parents of Down syndrome children, just relax and enjoy them. Keep challenging them but don't panic when they don't learn it at the age other children learned it, they will. And don't let anyone tell you that they can't.