I often get told “I dont know how you manage?” or “I am not sure I could cope as well as you”
Oddly enough for the most part there is no managing or coping, its all just getting on with it. The differences that once stood out like a sore thumb become normality and every day to you.
Yes 3 (My little girl with Downs) does need that little extra help with dressing and toileting, but thats about all the physical help she needs. She runs, she jumps and she plays. She can feed herself and climb the stairs. She is doing very good at walking down them now, but still prefers to do it on her bottom.
She needs a lot of help communicating. She is 6 and cant say anything without prompting and even then its not very clear. She uses Makaton when she can be bothered, the rest of the time she will “gig gig gig gig” at you until you manage to figure out what she is trying to say. This is one part that I do wish was easier sometimes. It can get quite frustrating for both of us. Its also hard to figure out what she has learned in school too, trying to get her to relay the information back is quite a stumbling block for me. She tries so hard to copy the sounds of the words when you read the book, it often makes us wonder when she will be able to talk & read. She loves books you see.
When she was a baby, she was like any other baby, except for her being that way for a while longer. She was only really sitting unaided by her first birthday, and by her 2nd birthday just starting to pull herself up to standing. So on the baby front it was in some ways quite nice, and fairly easy. She was teeny too, so we had loads of use out of her baby clothes.
One thing we do find hard too, is Christmas shopping for 3. We try very hard not to go too babyish with what we choose, her fingers can get quite clumsy for some of the fiddlier toys based for her age, so we do have to look at a few years younger. Thankfully she loves phones, microphones, babies and baby accessories, which makes it a little easier.
Another hard point we met with was School. Where do you go? Mainstream or special needs? I think for that it depends on lots of things. Firstly the child, 3 was always friendly with others, smiling and waving. She was comfortable around other children, no matter their abilities. Secondly, the school, what can they offer that the other isnt or can’t. For us, we already knew the staff at our school of choice. They were welcoming from the moment we found out baby had Downs during the pregnancy, and we wanted 3 to be known as ‘Holly’, not another kid on the special needs bus. As we walk home from school now all the way up its “Hi Holly”, “Hello Holly”, “Had a good day Holly” and she will say Hi back or tell them to go away with equal energy. Most importantly the input the school gives to her education, OK they are fairly new at dealing with Downs Syndrome in the class room, but I have got to say they have a damn good go at everything, and will try new ways, and different ideas of how to bring 3 along. So my advice there is go to the schools and walk around, ask questions, and get a feel of if they have your childs best interests at heart.
So is 3 any harder than her siblings??
NO WAY!!! The other 5 drive me crazy. 3 can be a little bugger I wont lie, but she generally does as she is told, generally is nice to her siblings, and can actually sit still longer than the rest of them too.
For us, the only thing that makes raising 3 harder is her poorly heart. Other than that behavior wise we are very very lucky. She is an easy going, chilled (but stubborn), mostly happy little girl.