|Felix's buddy, Larry the sheep|
|Showing big brother, Daniel, the sheep|
I have spent all this time trying to change people's perceptions of those with Down syndrome, when I also needed my perceptions changed. We have recently moved to a tiny little town in the Mid North of South Australia. I wasn't sure what to think of moving firstly, from a big city to a town of 25,000, and then to a tiny farming community, with only 65 people in close proximity to where we live. I admit to being worried about how people would react to Felix (and to me) when they found out he had Down syndrome. I'm ashamed to say I had the stereotype 'small town must mean small minded' in my head. Wow! Was I completely wrong! I have never met warmer, more accepting people, than those here in this tiny little town. People have welcomed Felix with open arms, with one farmer even calling him his 'little buddy' already, after Felix climbed up into his car at the local store. I have heard about several fundraisers (past and present), raising money for kid's cancer research and other fantastic causes, including a family who have fostered kids with disabilities. To say I am completely overwhelmed is definitely an understatement. People haven't shown the slightest bit of negativity towards Felix and, those who didn't know what Down syndrome was, have asked questions to inform themselves and understand Felix a little better.
|Morning walk in the fog|
We attended the local playgroup for the first time last week. They were thrilled to have Felix there and he was so content to join in with the other children (a group of about 8 kids, although usually more). He was completely relaxed and had a wonderful morning. The Mums were the loveliest group of ladies, and I felt totally at ease with them. I am looking forward to catching up with them each week. I asked if they would mind if some of Felix's friends from his early intervention class at Down Syndrome SA came up for a visit one day, and if we could use the playgroup facilities. They thought the idea was great and said we should make it a playgroup day so they could all meet some of Felix's little mates. I'm totally gobsmacked, in the best possible way!!
|Watching the kids at playgroup|
Since we have been here, Felix and I have been driving to a town 38km away each Friday, to attend Kindergym one week and story time at the library, on the alternate week. I can't believe how many children attend each of the sessions, or how well they are run. The Kindergym is set up in the school gymnasium and has a whole heap of different activities catering to the ages and abilities of all the children. Felix's favourite things have been the giant parachute which is lifted into the air and he can play underneath and, for the very first time, he learnt to climb a ladder! Once he did it the first time, he had to do it over and over again!! Even when his leg slipped through the bars, and obviously hurt, he got straight back on it and tried again. I was so proud of his resilience and, by the time the session finished he was doing it independently.
|Visit with sister, Bekah|
As far as therapy, Felix received a very comprehensive report from his previous team of therapists which has been handed to his new team so they know where he is at, and what they need to work on with him. I was so pleased with what they wrote; they had obviously been paying attention to the things Felix could do successfully and the things he struggles with. The report was very balanced and positive which was great!
He has already been receiving weekly visits from a lady from 'Learning Together at Home' (the same people who ran the special needs playgroup near our old home). She comes to our house each Thursday afternoon to play with Felix, and brings toys, puzzles, games etc to stimulate his development and challenge the areas he needs help in. The first week I told her he needs help strengthening his hands, so she brought some home made playdough for him to play with the next week. It was a sunny afternoon, so he sat out the front of the house and played with it for ages. I already appreciate the effort she has made to learn what would best benefit Felix.
|Cuddles with Isaiah|
The thing Felix likes best about living in the country is being outside. There is so much for him to explore! There are horses, sheep, chickens, cows, and we regularly see kangaroos when we're driving the older boys to school. He has made friends with a couple of local sheep and likes to visit them most days. We have been going for lots of walks which have been good for his coordination and balance. He has learnt to navigate himself across different surfaces; long grass, tree branches on the ground, pot holes on the road, gravel etc. He is walking so confidently and independently. His "I can do it myself" attitude comes in to play a lot. If I try to help him step over a branch, for example, he will quickly let me know that he doesn't need my help, by pushing me away!
|Love my little guy x x x|
Since being here, Felix has learnt to say a few more words. When signing 'sheep', he now says "ee" for sheep. He often says "help" while he is signing it, and he is starting to verbalise some of the sounds in several other words. He is playing with other kids completely comfortably, and I haven't seen any of the anxiety he used to show. All in all, I am so thankful for where we are living. It seems to be a perfect fit for Felix and I'm thoroughly looking forward to watching him grow and learn here.