Sunday, October 20, 2013

Day 20 of Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

Many months ago I started reading a book for parents of kids with Down Syndrome ( see lesson #18 from yesterday's post). One of the best things I got from the parts I was able it get through was whatever your child is interested in at that time, nurture and feed that interest. 

The author has a 24 year old son with DS and when he was young he was interested in instruments. She bought him books, they went places, and they learned everything they could about instruments. To this day he can name almost any instrument he hears and can tell anyone everything about it. 

She suggested starting young and since reading that we have tried to help Tera develop the interests that she seems to have. 

I really do love that she has things SHE truly loves.  And most people who know her, can attest to these loves.  

She loves babies.  Baby dolls, babies she sees in stores, and, of course, her babies (aka her cousins Riley and Kaelynn).  We have bought her several different kinds of dolls to have at home, and she has at least one at each grandma's house.  She can and will play with these for sometimes close to an hour.  She covers them and uncovers them with blankets, she carries them around the house, she feeds them, and yesterday she held a bottle under the water dispenser of our refrigerator and tried to fill it with water.  Our latest goal has been to try and find one that she can dress and undress to try and help her with her fine motor skills.  I added a bunch of things to her Christmas list today that included baby accessories like bottles, diapers, a playpen, a high chair, and changes of clothes.

She loves animals.  Pretty much every animal but her favorites are cats, elephants, giraffes, and sheep.  She knows a ton of sounds and/or signs for animals and they were in fact some of her very first intentional sounds.  We have puzzles with animals, books with animals, stuffed animals, we take her to petting zoos, the actual zoo, we watch TV shows and movies with animals, she has a jungle with animals that make sounds, apps that are all about animals, and when we're in the car and she's whiny or we're trying to keep her awake, we practice all her animal sounds.  

She loves books.  And I give a lot of that credit to her first daycare teacher who spent hours reading to her.  We of course try and pick books that include some of her interests, but she also has an aunt who is a first grade teacher and who has phenomenal taste in books.  I'm not sure how many times we've read Pete the Cat and the Skippyjohn Jones, but at least those entertain me as well.  

And lately we've been able to introduce our own likes to her.  Tom has taken out many of his old Star Wars toys for her to play with and she in fact has an AT-AT in her room that she loves and gives kisses to (in addition to the Wampa rug in the middle of her room that she lays on every chance she gets).  It helps that her whole room is decorated in Star Wars, she's getting a new Star Wars comforter hand-made by Yia Yia for her big girl bed, that for two of her three Halloween's so far she will have been Star Wars characters, and I just found a whole bunch of new ideas for other things in her room. For Mother's Day Tom bought me the original Scooby Doo series (which I love) on DVD and after getting tired of Sesame Street one week over the summer, I put one in.  That's pretty much all she wants to watch now.  She made up her own sign for Scooby Doo, she has my old Scooby Doo stuffed animals, and she picked Scooby Doo over Batman for her new orthotics design.  But speaking of Batman, she does love that too.  She thinks she is in fact Batman due to the number of t-shirts and pajamas she owns with that on them, and when she sees the Batman symbol anywhere, she points to herself (again, she thinks she is Batman).  She also has her own motorized Batmobile and had a Batman themed 2nd birthday party complete with Batman dress.

We actually find it kind of fun to entertain her interests because, like I said, many of them are ours as well.  It is so amazing to watch her reaction when she sees something in a store or out in public that interests her because then we know it's really her interest.  And it gives us things we can do as a family.  Of all the strategies I've been told about and read about, this is one that is definitely easier to incorporate because all we have to do is buy stuff for our sweet girl.  And that has never been a problem for us or anyone else in the family.

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