Welcome to Our House - The Analogy ©

Having a baby is special. For some, it’s a lifelong dream, for others, a wonderful surprise. Either way, many of us have thought about taking this journey and whether it’s planned or a pleasant surprise, we all have preconceived ideas about what our child will look and be like. But what if it isn’t what we planned or expected? This is a short story I have written for parents who have or are expecting an exceptionally special child.

Welcome to our House – An analogy

After many months of dreaming, you finally decide it’s time. You are going to build that perfect house of your dreams. You have saved and saved, and now it’s time to put your plan into action. You find a wonderful, perfect piece of land in the city. It’s exactly what you are looking for – because it’s the plan that everyone talks about. You envision the all brick house sitting on luscious green grass, surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside is a marble foyer leading into a family room with beautiful oak hardwood floors. Granite lines the kitchen counter tops and there is an island sink in the middle. Upstairs has four perfect bedrooms and the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and an enormous walk-in closet, of course. It’s truly a dream come true, and it’s only a matter of time. You purchase the land and think to yourself, in nine short months, you will have it all.

But suddenly your agent calls to tell you, the land is not properly zoned, and the city has not approved it for building your perfect home. They have instead, given you land in the country, where an old country home sits. You are absolutely devastated, your dreams vanishing right before your eyes. You know you can’t back out now, you need a place to live, and despite it not being what you wanted, you know that somehow you will manage and that you can continue on.

You tell everyone what has happened, and everyone is disappointed, some even offering their condolences. You know that everyone else has a nice city home, and that was what you had planned, but you have to come to terms with the fact that you must learn to live in the country.

You go to see the property every month until closing and something funny happens. You start to fall in love with the place. The air is fresh, it’s peaceful and serene. There’s a pond on the land, and the house, though not a new all brick home, is quaint, and has lots of hidden potential. You soon realize it’s not a awful place, it’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than the city, less noisy and flamboyant, but it’s beautiful none the less. And in the process, you soon realize you may even get to meet some new and wonderful neighbours.

Its closing day and you suddenly find yourself full of anticipation, but you are still a little worried. After all, it isn’t what you had originally hoped for, and the house may need some repairs. But you are determined to accept it, and tackle everything one step at a time. You open the front door, and suddenly you are thrilled with what you see. The house is lovely, and has lots of character. The rooms are smaller but it’s decorated with beautiful attention and detail. The kitchen has marble instead of granite, and the bathroom has a soaker tub instead of a Jacuzzi. There isn’t a walk-in closet in sight, but the rooms all come with an indescribable view. Somehow, you just know that it was always meant to be and that this is now home.

This is my analogy of what it will be like for people who discover that they will be caring for a baby with Down syndrome. For us, it is not a terrible place to be, it is a journey full of surprises, milestones and discovery like any other child. And as the story suggests, sometimes it’s only a matter of ‘point of view’, and surprisingly, once you have been there, you don’t want to be anywhere else. The journey, like all others doesn’t come without some bumps in the road, but once you find your way, it’s all about the place you discovered, in most cases - quite by random chance
Author: Sandi Graham-McWade, Copyright

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Journal - Week 61 (20Oct10)

Learning & Development:
Some developmental items we discovered while at the conference....

I wanted to post a few things about the conference, but in this post I wanted to focus on a few things that I discovered while we were at the conference.  Amongst the conference there were about eight booths set up for vendors.  One of the booths contained learning toys and developmental toys - from a company called "Smarty Pants".  I decided to purchase a couple of items that I knew would be helpful for Hunter.  Keep in mind, the physical developmental items require adult supervision because they are for physical development..

The first item I found was something I had already knew I needed but I was unable to find a suitable version of this item.  This physical developmental item is called a Balance Disk.  It is made by a company called "Body Sport".  The purpose of this disk is to increase stability, balance and coordination.  Since Hunter is now trying to develop his balance to walk, (and he is able to walk with help and also cruise the furniture) I figured that he could use something to assist him with the development of his stability, balance and coordination.  The reason I believe this device will be much more beneficial then other's out there on the market is because it is much more stable to the ground and made of a soft material that if Hunter topples over, he wont hurt himself on the item.  This disc can also be re-inflated or deflated from it's prepackaged state.  The other balance boards out there are made of wood and are not designed for younger or less stable children.  This blue disk has two different sides (top and bottom) that allow the disc to be used on various surfaces (carpet, tile or wood floor).  The different textures can also be used for different development exercises - such as standing, sitting, kneeling or tummy work.  The disc is so much more beneficial to me over a balance ball because of the height aspect.  This disc is low to the floor yet it does the exact same thing as the ball in terms of learning balance.  The price of this Balance Disc is $39.99 CAD.  This is pricey but is something that was designed with multiple uses and is much safer then a workout balance ball.  You may be able to find this item for a lower price.

Nubby sided for great carpet grip.

Smoother sided for different surfaces or textures.

The second item I discovered was a weighted ball (they come in various weights) called "Body Sport" soft weight ball that allows the individual holding it to increase their arm, shoulder and upper body strength.  One thing that babies and toddler with Ds have in common are low muscle toned limbs (especially arm and shoulder strength) and it's hard to find a great way to increase these muscles in a fun and interesting way.  This ball comes in weights of 1pound all the way to 6.6 pounds.  I know that Hunter enjoys playing with balls very much and this way, picking up this ball to throw it will increase his strength in his shoulders and arms which in turn will increase his ability to allow more weight baring on his arms for crawling and pulling.  The price of this soft weight ball is $19.99 CAD.  Again, this item is kind of pricey but the design is something that I could not duplicate that would be durable, safe and provide the same strength training.  You may be able to find this item for a lower price.

Body Sport Soft Weight Ball - 2.2 pounds.

Comes in six different weights (1.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.4, 5.5 & 6.6 lbs).

Finally, these two items I did not purchase from the conference but I though they were worthy to comment on and I found them very helpful for Hunter.  The first item is called "Baby's Learning Laptop" made by V-Tech.  It is important for me to talk about this item because one thing that is a constant in Hunter's life is the fact that I spend a whole lot of time on my Laptop and he often wants to press the buttons and help me to type when he sits in my lap.  I purchased this baby laptop a few months ago and ever since it has allowed Hunter to develop his pointing and point to press.  Since this Laptop has three different functions - songs, familiar items in the home, and alphabet it is able to teach the following aspects to your child: Music, Objects, Shapes and Sounds.  The Baby's Learning Laptop is designed for babies 6 months and up and I have to say even though Hunter has had it for a while and he is now 14 months old,  it introduced him to the world of his own laptop.

Vtech Baby's Learning Laptop - even has it's own built in "mouse".
It has three different learning functions and two volumes.
Hunter really enjoys the bright lights on this Laptop.
Hunter also enjoys playing the 9 different songs - Here he's clapping along.
He understands when it tells him "Good bye!" that he can press buttons to start again.

The second item is called "Teach and Talk Laptop" made by BlueHat toy company which is a higher learning laptop and one that we actually started Hunter on before the Vtech one (yes, kind of backward) but I wanted Hunter to be able use the Vtech one that was more durable that he would be able to bang and and if it fell onto the floor from his highchair would not likely break.   The Teach and Talk Laptop (for older toddlers) we bought is actually designed more specifically like a laptop and even has a detachable mouse and the age group for that one is actually for age 3 years and up.

Teach and Talk Laptop with detachable mouse.

Teach and Talk screen.  It is monochromatic.
The keys are QWERTY and also resembles a real laptop.

The Vtech Baby's Learning Laptop is priced at $22.99 CAD in Toys R Us.  And the Teach and Talk Laptop we found at a general computer store for $9.99 CAD  Comparatively the Teach and Talk Laptop has more learning features such as mathematics, spelling, telling time, music, keyboard skills, memory and vocabulary.  Each unit is appropriate for development in different areas.   Admittedly I swap between the two units depending on what I want Hunter to focus on.  The Teach and Talk Laptop I only allow Hunter to use when he is sitting with me.  Since the age for that Laptop is 3 years of age and up, I ensure that he is supervised with that at all times.

I will be trying to put out some posts about the different developmental items I have purchased and how they have worked with Hunter.  I am really pleased with the various developmental toys and items that I have either purchased or received as gifts since he was born.  If anyone has any questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to send me an email!

1 comment:

  1. I have just discovered your blog and am enjoying it very much! I have a teenage son who has Down syndrome and who is in love with his new laptop.


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