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!|