Monday, 21 October 2013

Buddy Walk

Fun in the farm barn
I have just got back from taking a walk with Felix, where we almost literally stopped to smell the roses; except instead of roses, they were lavender bushes. I showed Felix how to sniff the lavender flowers and straight away he leaned forward to smell them. There were many more lavender bushes on the way home so, Felix stopped at each one, bent over at the waist and buried his face in the flowers. I love that he was able to identify which bushes were lavender, stopping to smell them, but walked past other flowers. It was beautiful to watch him.

His buddy, the alpaca
This morning I had a super proud moment. Felix was still in his pajamas, but he pulled a pair of jeans out of his drawer and was trying to put them on over his pajama pants. He was getting a little bit frustrated and signed 'help' (and said "elp") to get my attention. I took his pajama pants off and sat and watched him, wondering what he would do. He picked the jeans up again and easily put one leg in (they are very skinny jeans so he had to pull extra hard to get his leg in). Once he had one leg in, he did the same with the other leg, then stood up and pulled his jeans up. I couldn't believe it! The only thing he needed help with was the button. Another little step towards independence!
Big sister, Bekah

Thanks to the advice from another Mum, with an older son with Down syndrome, who said, "The best thing we can do for our kids is make ourselves obsolete", I have been trying to step back with more and more things, and allow Felix to try and do it for himself. Sometimes it's tempting to step in and 'do it faster', but we are certainly reaping the rewards by stepping back and letting Felix attempt them first. When we go out into the backyard, I tell Felix to get his gumboots. He will now sit on the step and correctly put both boots on the right feet. When we come back inside he knows to take his boots off and to go to the sink to wash his hands. I lift him up, and he rubs his hands together to get them nice and soapy, rinses them, shakes them and then goes to the towel to dry them by himself. He is following many more instructions and is showing amazing comprehension, which is really encouraging.
Feeding Shaun some grass

A friend of mine, who is also blessed with a 3 year old who has Down syndrome, recently posted something on Facebook which I found very interesting. Her theory is that it can be really difficult to judge exactly how much our kids understand, because of their speech delay. She thinks (and I agree), that if our kids were able to speak about everything they know, we would actually be shocked at how much knowledge they actually have. Since her daughter has started talking a lot more, she is amazed at the things she knows and understands, which she is now able to express.With Felix's speech improving every day, I'm noticing how much he is bursting to talk to me about. The other day, he was excitedly signing and talking about four very specific animals. After he was finished, Nathan told me that Felix had been playing with a balloon with pictures of those four animals on it. That was what he was trying to tell me! Very often, Felix will look at me and sign 'listen'. I won't be able to hear anything, but then he will sign 'truck' and, sure enough, I will begin to hear a truck coming, in the distance. He notices so many things!
A boy and his sheep

Another thing I am trying to encourage is getting Felix to help me do things. I had to get a prescription from the Chemist yesterday, so I asked Felix if he could go and give the prescription to the lady which he did, with a big smile. I want him to learn to be confident to do things himself, without my help. He likes to help feed the chickens their pellets, and copies me when I pull up a handful of grass to throw to them. We're also insisting all the time that he sign 'please' and 'thank you'. Sometimes he will be grunting at me to do something but I won't until he's signed 'please'. He's pretty good now, and will usually sign 'thank you' without being asked. Our little boy is growing up!
Aaron and Joshua joined us this year

Last Sunday was our annual Down syndrome Buddy Walk. As usual, we had a wonderful day. Felix was confident enough this year to pat the animals in the farm barn (he freaked out last year), and made friends with the biggest animal in the enclosure; an alpaca. He loved the clown (much to Daddy's horror), and had fun on the jumpy castle with his big sister, Bekah. We were able to catch up with a lot of Felix's little buddies, and meet some new faces too. It was a very warm day for the walk, but we're so thankful to our regulars, my Mum and Dad and best friend Deb who mark Buddy Walk on their calendar every year and have never missed one. We are also thankful that three of our kids, Aaron, Joshua and Bekah; our Grandson, Noah's Mummy, Mel; our beautiful friend, Kerri; and the amazing Hartwig family (Andy, Kyle and 5 of their kids) all came out to support Felix, and others with Down syndrome by doing the walk with us this year. We have had so many friends and family come along with us over the past few years, and we're grateful to each and every one of you. Your support means so much; thank you x x x


  1. He is just adorable, I have a 20 months old and she is so smart.

    1. That's lovely of you; thank you! What is your daughter's name? They are such clever kids aren't they? People should never underestimate what they can do. Felix is almost 3 1/2 years old now. Time has gone so fast!