Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Little milestones - Great Reward

Having a picnic with our puppy, Atlas
Last week at Kindergym I was starting to get a little bit concerned about Felix's interaction with other kids his age. When we were going to the regular Playgroup, Felix was starting to learn to play with a lot of other kids running around, making noise and sitting close to him. Since we stopped going (because of the time change being during his sleep time), he hasn't had a lot of exposure to big groups of kids. Over the past few weeks I've noticed him develop almost a fear of other (small) children. Last week it was the worst I've ever seen him. If another child came to within a couple of metres of him he would lay face down on the floor and refuse to move until they went away. If they got too close he would climb up in my lap as quickly as he could. I decided that the only way forward would be to keep attending places where there were a lot of kids, give him lots of reassurance and hope he learns to feel more comfortable.

This photo made me laugh so much
I went to Kindergym this morning expecting him to behave like he did last week. I was pleasantly surprised to see that, although he was cautious at first of the other children, he didn't appear to be frightened. The first little boy who approached him was just walking slowly which definitely helped. A bit like me when a mouse rushes out from under the freezer and across my foot, Felix jumps if kids come rushing really quickly towards him. By the end of this morning's session he crawled right away from Nathan and I and sat near a mini basketball hoop where a little boy was playing. Felix found a ball on the ground and threw it towards him. It was beautiful to watch the little boy pick up the ball and go and hand it back to Felix. Each time after that, when Felix threw the ball, he would bring it back to him. When another child came and took the ball he was playing with, the little boy found another one for Felix. It might not seem like such a big deal, but a lot of kids with Down Syndrome find large groups of people quite challenging, so for us to have this tiny breakthrough with Felix was fantastic!

We noticed a couple of other things this morning too. Felix's ability to climb up the obstacles (various big padded blocks and soft stairs etc), has improved incredibly. He loves, what I can only describe as, a huge big padded donut shaped thing laying flat on the ground. The sides are about as high as Felix is tall so when he's in the middle of the donut he can only just see over the top. There are a set of soft stairs which he has to climb up before he reaches the top and then can lower himself into the middle. Usually he gets to the top of the stairs and needs help to lower himself down the other side. This morning, he climbed the stairs then spun himself around to lower himself feet first into the middle of the donut without any help at all! Nathan and I both had huge grins on our face as we sat and watched him.

Having a laugh on the toilet
It's funny; we don't ever really notice what Felix can't do compared to other kids his age. I think we get so wrapped up in how incredible we think he is, that we completely forget that most of his milestones are reached later than other kids. Today we had a reminder when a gorgeous little girl came running past Felix. She was at least 20cm taller than him and definitely much bigger. She was jumping and climbing and talking. I asked her Mum how old she was and got a huge shock when she said she was 18 months old. Four months younger than Felix, but I would have guessed at least a year older. The great thing is that I can honestly say it didn't make me feel sad or disappointed that Felix isn't doing a lot of what that little girl is doing. In fact, just after I spoke to her Mum, Felix successfully maneuvered himself over the top of a big padded block all on his own, so Nathan and I went back to cheering our clever little man. Shortly afterwards he walked away from us towards another little boy. He still usually only walks in between people, so to walk independently away from us was awesome! The little things have become incredibly exciting and never cease to fill us with so much pride.

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