Saturday, 5 May 2012

To swim or not to swim?

Peek a Boo in the mirror
Independent Play

I spend a lot of time playing with Felix and doing different activities with him, but he also enjoys playing independently sometimes and working things out for himself. I can almost hear his mind ticking over as he concentrates hard on different things and figures out how things work. This morning he has been sitting on our bedroom floor playing with some different toys, but instead of pushing the steamroller toy across the floor, he has turned it upside down and is using one finger to spin the wheels around and around. He has his face leaned in close to the wheel and is watching it carefully.

Hands up high in the mirror
Yesterday, Felix spend about half an hour sitting in front of the mirror in our room. For anyone who has a child with any sort of delays, invest in a full length mirror. It has been a valuable tool for Felix to learn to play independently and for him to learn to mimic behaviours. He sat there running his hands through his hair for a good few minutes, making his hair stick out in all directions. He looked quite pleased with the end result (Justin Bieber eat your heart out!) When he's sitting in front of the mirror, I will ask him to put his hands up. He will stretch up high with his arms and think he's really clever for knowing what I'm asking him to do. He will also 'sing' and do the actions to his favourite songs or pull funny faces and laugh hysterically at himself. I think we have even more fun sitting and watching him play.

Swimming Lessons?
Our little fish

Something I find brilliant within the Down Syndrome Community is that there are always people with more experience, or who have experienced different things with their children, that me. If I want to ask a question (no matter how stupid it seems) there are always people willing to share their views or offer advice. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (Facebook, forums etc) those helpful people could be from the other side of the world!

My question this week has been about whether I should take Felix to swimming lessons or not. He is a natural born fish. He loves the bath, the beach, the shower and the cat's bowl of water! I have no doubt he will take to swimming like a duck to water. My dilemma, however, is my concern about him getting ear infections.

People with Down Syndrome have much more narrow ear canals and nasal passages than your average person, making them more prone to ear infections, colds and sinus issues. Felix has been super healthy, which I am thankful for every day. He has never had an ear infection and has only had a couple of colds (less even than our 'typical' kids). I know I can't spend my life wrapping him up in cotton wool, but I also want him to maintain his good health. I probably sound like a paranoid Mum!

Trying to put his sock on by himself
Thanks to the many, many responses to my questions on this topic, I have decided to enquire about swimming lessons this week. As most parents pointed out to me, the benefits of swimming for kids with Down Syndrome far outweigh the risk of infections. It is a great tool to improve their muscle tone and coordination, and most parents have found their kids easily keep up with the other kids in the class and some really excel at swimming. Parents of children with Down Syndrome are constantly aware of finding an activity their kids are 'good at' and feel confident doing. Who knows? Swimming might be Felix's area of expertise!

One piece of advice which was offered by a lot of people, was to get Felix a wetsuit to keep his core temperature warm while he's in the pool. Others have suggested ear plugs which may help prevent water getting in his ears. I'll be busy researching these this week and try and figure out what will work best for Felix.


Helping Mummy fold the washing
Something I appreciate about my friends in the Down Syndrome Community is their willingness to ask questions and/or give advice, and the way we can celebrate with each other when our child reaches a milestone. I often felt, when raising our 'regular' kids, that it was a competition to see whose child did something faster or earlier than someone elses. Within the Down Syndrome Community I feel there is more of an awareness that our kids will do things in their own time, and when they do it is something the whole community shares with you. Where else would a group of people from all over the world get so excited because your 12 month old ate a piece of fruit for the first time without choking, or your 3 year old took their first steps, or your 7 year old could consistently use the toilet? Of course there will always be those who see life as a competition, but for the most part it is a place to feel happy for each other and enjoy each milestone no matter how small. We are all travelling the same path and I, for one, feel like I belong!


  1. Thanks for your blog, it's great to read something positive, and I've found lots of positive online through state associations, blogs etc. I'm scared I'm trying to give myself an unrealistically positive outlook though. I'll try emailing you, Shell.

    1. I hope you got my email. My thoughts are with you x x x

  2. Hello, another mum shared your blog with me, so yay, thank you!! I have said the same thing many times about the DS community x x

    p.s. thanks for the comments on swimming, just the little things like ear infections and wetsuits hadnt even crossed my mind before but definitely something I'll keep in mind when its our time to get wet

  3. Glad you found my blog :) Welcome to my crazy little world LOL Good luck with the swimming. I've decided to take Felix... I just bought him a groovy green wetsuit and a matching headband/earplug thingy with dinosaurs on it. Can't wait to try them :)