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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Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Journal - Week 62 (28Oct10)

Standing... Sitting... Standing & Clapping?

Steadily for a while now Hunter has been reaching milestone after milestone and it has been wonderful watching him achieve them.  Sometimes I forget that it is a big deal when he "gets" something because I tend to forget about the Down syndrome which is the way it should be.  That sounds kind of silly, but when you expect the most from your child, when you aim high as opposed to settling, you will find that things may happen as they should or when the results happen it feels so much better because you knew they would.

Something that we learned in one of the seminars at the Down syndrome Conference a few weeks ago was very inspiring and motivating.  The doctor who was lecturing said something that I wont soon forget.  A study was conducted in a class room at the beginning of a school year.  A teacher was told to point out four students in her class (whom she had never met or had as students before) and comment a loud that those specific students will excel better then all the other students, and achieve higher marks then the rest.  (In other words, the expectation was put directly on those four students by verbal comment.)  At the end of that year, those same four students actually excelled over all the other students within that same class.  The point of the study was to show, if you expect more from a student rather then only expecting what you assume they will do, they will do better.  It was evident that allowing students to perform at an expected higher level - by allowing them to think that they were able to achieve higher then they even anticipated themselves, they actually did so in reality.  Further the point was also proven that students who are put into special education classes or schools versus inclusive classrooms did poorer.  When children with special needs were treated the same or given the same expectations as any other child, they excelled and achieved higher - comparatively to the midstream level of typical children.  So the end of the day the lesson was that it was important not to segregate but rather place students in an all inclusive classroom and school setting for their benefit.  (There were other reasons why this was true which were due to resources being better, challenges were better, but over all the reason that proved most important was that expectations were higher and therefore so were the results.)  So, in knowing that this is true, (which for all intents and purposes - I have done the same with Hunter from day one) I always expect more from Hunter then allowing myself to think, I wont expect the same from him because he has Down syndrome.  That would be inexcusable as far as I am concerned.  There are things where I know there will be limitations perhaps physical development, (and when I speak of limitations there - I mean that while they might exist, it will mean that we just have to work differently or harder in other ways to achieve them.) due to hypotonia (low muscle tone) which has nothing to do with cognitive development.  It is a physical challenge that can be over come in other ways.  Also, I have to realize that while my methods of educating Hunter might be a little more forced or that we work harder, the point is - I do it knowing that he can do it, even if it may not come "naturally" or "easily" for either of us.

Having said all that, it brings me to today's milestone.  Lately since Hunter has been very busy exploring because he has finally achieved "crawling" properly (and I failed to post about this for some crazy reason) for the last month or so - instead of his Commando Inchworm crawl, he has been very interested in walking.  We have been working on walking together for the last few months.  Hunter has been cruising the furniture, but has yet to develop the appropriate balance to do it independently.  TODAY however, he did something that we have seen very rarely against furniture.  When Hunter stands up at the furniture, sometimes in the recent past he has become distracted from what he was doing and has let go of the furniture without realizing it.  We catch him standing there, sometimes leaning against something or actually spun around to watch something else more interesting.  Today while standing with Grandma's help, Hunter was watching his "Baby Can Read" video.  He has been trying to stand up and let go of whatever he holds onto  (people/furniture) and today while seeing "CLAP" he let go of Grandma to Clap his hands after seeing it on the television.  He stood there clapping, not holding onto anyone or anything, and I got so excited that I yelled and literally scared the child back onto his bottom!  I was so happy with what he had done, but then so mad at myself for scaring him out of it!  But sure enough, he did it a few more times after that.

My son can stand independently!!!  I think he has been trying to show us that he can do that for a while now, but we never gave him the opportunity to show us away from the furniture!  Well, I guess it wont be long before he tries to take that first step....  Wow.   So while it isn't for much more then a few seconds, it's happening.  And I am once again very proud of my boy.  Next I will have to get a video of it or photo at the least!

Speaking of photos, as promised - I have the rest of the photos from our play group that Penny graciously sent me to post - which I did promise to post a few days ago!  Enjoy again!

I am having such a great time - I even got a cracker to eat!
Still having fun!!  Can you believe there are so many toys?
I can make Kissy Fishy faces!  Mommy asked me to Kiss for the camera!
This is my friend Vaun.  He's having fun too!  Looks like he's got his Mommy's hair!
This is my new buddy Hayden!  He's having fun playing too!
I am talking to Taylor-Rose!  I was telling her something & "snap!" we had our photo taken!
Taylor-Rose is so cute!  She took a pacifier and popped it in upside down!
Here she is "blowing kisses" to everyone!  I wish I could do that!
Looks like my new buddy Hayden is getting ready to go.  He has a Sophie giraffe too!
Obviously there will many more photos to come and hopefully also many new faces to see!  There is nothing like sharing in something where it helps so many people and our kids all at the same time!

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