My intention for starting this blog was to give those parents whose children with Down syndrome have no health concerns – ie congenital heart defects, gastrointestinal issues, thyroid problems, etc – an indication of what’s to come. I remember hitting Google in the hours after Frankie was born, frantically searching phrases like “Down syndrome, healthy” or “Down syndrome, no health problems” and turning up nothing. I’m not sure what exactly I was looking for, but my guess is some sort of reassurance that everything was going to be okay if I just found that one case that was exactly like ours.
The reality is, it doesn’t matter. Your baby will develop at their own pace and you will celebrate every milestone as and when it comes. And even if you do find that one case at birth, that’s no guarantee that your child will follow the same path. We know little heart warriors who went on to walk at 15 months and others with no health concerns who have taken longer. One of Down syndrome’s lessons is patience – it’s ALL in their own time.
That said, I know the power and comfort of reassurance. And if I can offer that to a parent who needs it while bragging on my girl…well, it’s a win-win situation, isn’t it? So, here is a little run down of where we are at 16 months.
I should say I have been feeling a little down lately as I watch the typical babies we’re friends with surpass Frankie in the milestones department. Walking and talking are the most obvious. But it’s important to focus on everything your baby CAN do. And this little one doesn’t have to walk to light up a room!
So we are pulling up to stand on EVERYTHING and cruising like a star. But balance is still an issue and she can’t manage standing on her own for more than a few seconds. Her attempts to walk unassisted consist of lurching forward with feet firmly planted. Not so safe. She can walk with her walker or baby stroller and is even learning to turn it around when she bashes into the furniture and is at an impasse.
Previously, Frankie was a butt scooter and was pretty efficient. The physical therapist was satisfied with that, but surprisingly, the occupational therapist was adamant she learned how to crawl on all fours as it’s good for bearing weight on and therefore strengthening her hands, and essential for right brain/left brain coordination. In the past two months she has become a complete crawling convert and has gotten pretty darn quick, too.
She can climb up the stairs on her own – especially when she knows her big brother is in his room up there. Seriously, the FOMO is strong in this one! We’re working on getting down them by either sliding on her behind or turning onto her stomach. TIP: Taking the couch seat cushions off and letting her climb up and down is good practice and according to our PT a great way to work on transferring skills from one apparatus to another.
Fine motor skills are coming along nicely, as evidenced by this video that is included here purely because it melts my heart! She used to fling the pieces to various toys and is now doing that a lot less. I have figured out that she does still do it when she’s working with a toy that she hasn’t yet mastered. She’s fine with the rings, and with the ball drop and a few others, but she still chucks the puzzle pieces because it’s harder for her to do. Interesting…!
I feel we have the most work to do with her speech and communication skills. We sometimes get what look like signs – specifically “give me” and “eat” but she mostly just grunts and/or manipulates our hands to indicate what she wants. We’re not getting any discernible words and though she is pretty sharp, there’s not much indication she understands. I’m told it’s early for speech, I just have to remind myself to be patient.
I could go on and on about her, but suffice it to say that she is a toddler in every sense of the word and is keeping us on our toes! She is into everything and, out of necessity, I don’t underestimate her for a second anymore!