Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October: Down syndrome Awareness Month (post #13)- How will Ds affect Reid's toddler and preschool years?

How will Down syndrome affect Reid through his toddler and preschool years? 

In post #3 I addressed the question I have received many times which is; How will Down syndrome affect Reid? I had mentioned I would dedicate several posts during October's Down syndrome awareness month as to how it may affect him at different stages in his life the best I could, because of course Reid will be the real author of each chapter. As we are currently in the toddler years his days consist of therapy 3 days a week...but also doing fun stuff with our parks and recreation program, play dates, play dough, coloring (well kinda), swimming in the
backyard, wrestling with his brother....just "normal toddler guy" stuff! We will receive services through the regional center for his therapy needs until Reid is 3 years old, at which time he will be turned over for lack of better words, to our local school district and receive any therapy he may still need through them. The school Luke attends actually has a special day preschool where Reid could go 5 days a week starting at 3 years of age. MWF he and any friends with special needs would attend class with typical children from the neighborhood and on T/TH only he and his special needs friends attend for more individual attention. I like the theory of this program. 

However, when I think of preschool options for Reid...I think back to night #2 after his birth. Obviously I was still in the hospital and the nursing staff was kind enough to transfer me to a private room so I could process everything on my own. They actually did not have any private rooms for me so they gave me one of their shared rooms but promised not to put any other mom in there with me. Toby didn't want to leave so he...and Luke... actually slept in that other bed which technically they were not allowed to do. After visiting hours were over they would pop on the other bed and swing the curtain around them so the staff was none the wiser. When a nurse would leave, Luke would pop his head out from around the curtain and ask, "Is she gone mom?". Anyway...I kind of reminisced there, but wanted to paint the picture. So, all of us were in the room, Toby and Luke snuggled in the other bed hidden away when all of a sudden I woke up at about 2:00 am with this ache in my heart and thoughts swimming in my head  and I began to sob, and sob...I was so upset because all I could think about was that Reid would not go to the preschool that Luke was currently going to, that we loved so much. I couldn't get the images out of my head of Luke hyperventilating every time we pulled into the parking lot of the school because he was so excited to be there and flinging his seat belt off only to shout out to his friends who were also just arriving. I was still so new in this journey with Down syndrome that I believed Reid wouldn't have those same experiences. Luke had a crush on a little girl in class at the time and I cried because I wondered if Reid would have a crush. I cried, and I cried, and I cried...so much and so loudly apparently that a nurse came in the room and turned on the light..and we were "found out" so to speak because of course Toby woke up too... thank goodness they didn't slap a bill on us for that (it's about the only thing they didn't bill us for!!). Toby and I stayed up for a few hours talking, the truth is we really didn't know what to expect for our child because we really didn't know anything about Down syndrome.

Fast forward nearly 22 months and you have the pictures in this post...little Reid (standing ALL by himself) checking out duck eggs at the the nature center and looking at cockroaches in that log thingy...and playing drummer boy on plastic tubs in class... he gets so excited being there...a similar excitement I cried about, worried he wouldn't experience. He may not have a crush on
 anyone in particular but that is because he spreads the love, smiles, and kisses to everyone. And as for preschool........................ I am so excited to say he is on the waiting list for the typical preschool that Luke went to. Will he go there? Perhaps. I think it would be good for him and his therapists agree that he would thrive in that environment. But, I also have my eye on 
another typical preschool that is so developmental and hands on that I may try that first with him....who knows, the options are a plenty...too bad I didn't know that on night #2 after Reid's birth... I could have used the extra sleep!! :)

9 comments:

Nan P. said...

Hello Cheri,

I agree with you, the lack of knowledge is probalby what brings about the most hurt and worry at the beginning. I did all the crying as well, uncontrolably, for days and weeks after Cathal's birth, after I heard, or was told, or read something else about DS. I know I was just grieving for the grand-child I thought I would not have. It's an entirely normal human reaction - Of course what did not help during those first 6 to 7 weeks is the fact that we were so worried about his heart, and I think that his parents and the whole family could come to terms with the whole situation only after his surgery.

But the crying passes, and life goes on, in different ways from what we had imagined, but it does go on. If anyone had told me early March last (just before he born) that I would set up my own blog (because of him), contact people the world over (because of him), campaign for Special Needs people (because of him), AND learn to sign (started 2 weeks ago) (and yes, because of him) I would have said in my best Irish accent:

"WHA...?"

Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

Thank you for this post. I too have and had the same thoughts for Joaquin. The other day I put his name on the waitlist at Mateo's preschool and he is automatically on the waitlist at Diego's preschool. I felt empowered putting his name on the list. My hope is that he will go to a "typical" preschool but I know to stay open to what he may need at that point. I got tears again reading your post because we mother's all go through the same fears and hopes....
BTW, where did you get that adorable shirt Reid has on in the last photo? is it ghosts? sooooo cute!

Michelle said...

I loved this post - all those things that Reid is doing and will be able to do, and just being a typical toddler!

Cheri said...

Hi Jennifer...Reid's little ghost shirt is from Old Navy :)

Cheri said...

Nan, I totally agree I think it is our lack of knowledge and experience with the diagnosis that brings about the most hurt and worry...and the grieving of the child we thought we were going to have....but the great part is...I have him...and you have him in your grandson Cathal, they're just packaged differently than we thought but absolutely the same little ones we hoped for. I am so glad my grieving has ended so I can see it all that way now.

Nan...I can hear your Irish accent!!! and I am laughing because...well, I didn't even know what the heck a blog was until this last summer...totally out of it I know... but didn't know about them and certainly would never of guessed I'd have one and have far away friends in other countries as a result!

Okay so here's my best attempt at an Irish accent..."Good on ya Nan...for learning sign language!" :)

Heather said...

Oh Cheri....Reid is so absolutely amazing.Look at all the stuff he is doing.All the stuff that is bringing not only incredible joy to his life but joy to those who love him.The pure joy of watching him grow and thrive and blossom into a typical 2 year old.Maybe if you knew all this back on night 2,it would have been expected and therefore you would not be as appreciative of the moments.Maybe you would not be seeing the magic in every single accomplishment.Because wasn't that the problem with our other children?We didn't stop and savor the moments.We do now.We will forever,thanks to the gift of an extra little chromosome.

Nan P. said...

Thank you Cheri, for the accent...

especially that being French born and bred, my "Irish" accent often leave a lot to desire, or so I have been told (and usually by my own children!)

Kele said...

Cheri, I am having a down day and reading this post lifted me so much. Thank you, truly.

Addie-tude said...

Hi Cheri! That pre-school at Luke's school sounds pretty cool. I'm sure Reid will bring joy and happiness to any classroom that he is in. Looking forward to the walk next Sunday! Love, Gloria