Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Third time's a charm.

My boy, Judah, can be a bit slow when it comes to reception.  I've also found this to be true with most of my students who have Down syndrome.  Usually if I ask Judah to do something I have to tell him about three times before he carries out the command.

What I've learned with Judah, and what I am also seeing in my students is that they are slow to process commands.  To the common person this appears to be defiance, when actually it's just the kid with DS processing what they were told/asked. 

This requires a lot of patience on my part.  I'm used to my girls listening and doing what they're told/asked the first time.  With Judah and my students I often get frustrated and on occasion lose my cool with them for taking so long.  I almost have to unlearn and re-teach myself to be patient, say the command about three times and then expect the appropriate response.  

Monday, January 23, 2012

Driveway Bombing with Judah.

My last post got the wheels spinning in my mind about what my son, Judah, can do.  Ironically, today when we got home from work/school I was tinkering around in my garage while the kids played in the driveway.  Usually Judah kind of pushes around on the little red trike you can see in this video.  To my delight, however, he grabbed Karis' (his older sister) skateboard and started bombing the driveway.  Even more awesome than that, he began to problem solve by figuring out ways to stop himself.  He figured his trike would make a great buffer between his speed and the street.  When Karis came outside she wasn't too pleased he was on her skateboard so I let him use mine and captured some of it on video.

I always feel like I need to include a "moral" or "reason" for each post.  So here it is: just when you think you've got your kid with Down syndrome figured out or become discouraged because of something they "can't" do, they grab a skateboard and start shredding in the driveway!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Trike Rodeo.

A few of my students are pretty athletic.  The one in this video is especially active.  He loves to ride the trike.  On several occasions I have allowed him to ride around the school campus (supervised of course).  My school is almost completely outdoors and entirely paved.  The school was meant to be ridden and I am often tempted to bust out the skateboard after work and shred myself.

I think most of us take for granted the "ability" that it requires to ride a tricycle.  For many kids, it comes naturally, especially because there is not much balancing involved.  To a kid with Down syndrome (or other cognitive delays) it's hard work.  It requires moving legs rapidly to pedal, while looking ahead and being prepared and able to steer the trike in the right direction. Not to mention balance and awareness of surroundings, etc.

Judah has been seeing a physical therapist since he was about 6 months old.  He never crawled.  He went from combat crawling to walking.  We thought he'd never walk; now sometimes we can hardly keep up with him because he loves to run.  Riding a trike... not so much.

But his good buddy in this video sure does!

This kid is a natural on the trike and would probably ride all day if I let him.  Last week I brought the video camera to work and filmed him doing what he does best... ride!

So for those of you (including myself) who may be discouraged about your child's physical ability to do things, watch this video and know that our little buddies are capable.  It's hard for me not to compare Judah to other kids his age with DS.   I must remind myself that just like any other kid, they're all different and grow at their own rate.  They're also just like other kids in that some of them are just not athletic.  They may be talented in other areas or prefer other interests.

For the rest of you that do not have a child with Down syndrome (or cognitive delays), please be patient with our little guys.  Many of the things that we take for granted don't come as easily for them.  They have to work twice as hard and three times as long.  

I'm proud of what Judah can do!  I'm proud of this boy too and I know his family is thrilled that he can rip on a trike!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Down for Life.

Today Judah's teacher told me a story about some of his classmates.  They have a new student in their class.  Apparently the new student was thrown off a bit by Judah and unsure how to react around him.  One of the little girls in the class told the new student: "Judah learns different than me and you, he's a bit slower because he has what you might call... Down syndrome."  

I'm not a cryer.  I'm not trying to be macho, it just takes an act of God to pull tears out of me... but I believe kids with DS are an act of God and stuff like that chokes me up.  I couldn't be more proud.

At the beginning of the school year I read My Friend Isabelle to Judah's class and gave each of his classmates a xeroxed copy of this coloring book.  I've seen positive results throughout the school year already.  Having that little girl say that encourages me that advocacy does pay off!

Here's some links to encouraging stories that are circulating the interwebz lately:

Noah's Dad on the News

Be an advocate for kids with Down syndrome and all kids with special needs! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Whan, tewe, whee!

Over the Christmas break Judah took up smart mouthing me.  I cannot handle a kid talking back, it's bratty and just makes me want to whip the belt out and tan hides.  However, I find myself at a standstill with my own son because it's one of the cutest things he's ever done.  For instance, when told to go potty (yes we still use this word with him and sometimes use it unknowingly with adults) he replies "No potty!" Not so cute at first, but after repeating myself 2-3 times I respond with "I don't like your attitude".  Without skipping a beat he quickly shoots back "Ah! Too!" (attitude).  This kind of response is beginning to get out of hand as he does it with just about every command or even just a suggestion I say to him.  For example:

Me: Close the door buddy. 

Judah: NO BUDDY!

Me: No Judah, close the door please.

Judah: No peez!

Me: Fine, I won't be polite. Close the door now!

Judah: No now!

Me: Really? I'm not asking, I'm telling you.

Judah: Tell eww!

Me: Ok Judah, I'm going to count to 3...

(He quickly interrupts...)

Judah: No whee! (3)

Me: I think you need a spanking for talking back.

Judah: NO BUTT!

Me: Cut it out mister!

Judah: Ith Doe! (mister)

Another example is with TV.  Judah loves TV!  If we let him he'd watch it all day.  His favorites from when he was super little have always been Sesame Street, Backyardigans, and Blues Clues.  Now that he's getting to be a "big boy" he wants to watch anything that has fighting and explosions such as every super hero movie or cartoon, but especially Iron Man.  He also loves rasslin' (WWE).  He has a bad habit of going through our collection of movies and shoving them in my face.  That's his way of letting me know he wants to watch it.  Here's an example of a conversation we might have:

Me: No buddy, no movies right now.

Judah: No 'VEES!

Me: I'm serious buddy, go play with something, you can't just watch TV all the time.  No TV!

Judah: TV!

Me: Go put that DVD back, you're gonna tear it up carrying it around. No DVD's!

Judah: No! Deedle Dee's!

Because of all the fighting shows he watches his favorite word of late is "fight", and he loves to act it out.  If I'm busy or can't play with him he'll argue with me about it like this:

Judah: (at the top of his lungs) DA EEE!!! FIGHT!!! 

(He then begins kicking and punching at/on me if I'm standing or sitting.  If I'm lying down he'll just full on tackle and throw himself on me with elbows and knees flying.)

Me: Not right now buddy, daddy's working (or whatever I may be doing).

Judah: DA EEE!!! NO! FIGHT!!! 

(I get clobbered once again)

Me: I'm sorry buddy, maybe later.

Judah: DA EEE!!! NO!!!  No later!

(A good pummeling once again commences)

Me: Ok pal that's enough, go play with your men (that's what we call his action figures), make them fight.

Judah: NO MEN!

I'm still working on stopping this, but honestly I almost look forward to it because it's so cute and I think it's rad that his little boy side is finally beginning to show.  Most of the time after one of these conversations I just ignore his behavior and he walks off sucking his thumb and pouting.

It's times like these that I understand parents that don't discipline or correct their child with Down syndrome.  I just keep reminding myself that it's only cute now because he's a little boy.