Raising Jack was beginning to get a little more routine. He learned to do the things that the other kids did, learning to walk and talk for instance. We soon learned what “I do it” meant. Trouble. That’s what it meant! Jack seemed to want to do everything himself and it would take him a loooong time to do it. We learned patience and Jack learned life skills. Some things he just couldn’t do. Buttons tasked him to distraction and even today we avoid them rather than trying to force the issue. We all know how hard it is to fasten a pair of jeans… ‘m not going to trouble him with that until it’s absolutely imperative. Fine motor skills in children with Down Syndrome are often less than they need to be. There are many exercises available to them to help in increasing that skill, but even so, stiff denim and a tight waistband proved too tricky for my guy!
Everything else Jack wanted to do, well we did our best to make it happen for him. A wonderful book called Steps to Independence by Bruce L Baker is available specifically to help “Teach Everyday Skills to Children with Special Needs”. It’s a real gift to have and teaches a parent how to help their child learn everything from making their bed in the morning to changing a light bulb in a home of their own.
One area where we were very successful with Jack was in potty training. I had heard that children with Down Syndrome may take a long time to potty train. Some children I had heard of were still training at 10 years old. I certainly hoped to be done with potty training by then. My good friend Lisa had begun something we all thought rather radical with her child… she had introduced something called Elimination Communication. This process involved tuning in to your child’s cues about when they need to potty. Your child may gaze off into the distance as she pees in her diaper or may start to wriggle or hop about then they need to poop. Each child has their own signal and each child HAS a signal. Once you have cued into that you can start holding them over a potty seat or a toilet and encourage the child to poop or pee into that. Soon the child catches on and learns to stay dry and the parent learns when to take the child to the bathroom. It’s a win win!
We tried it with Jack. We didn’t expect to have him trained by 8 months or anything like that, but any forward progress was much appreciated. Amazingly it worked really well with him. I have a distinct memory of my baby boy, sitting in his car seat and signing that he needed to go poop. He couldn’t talk yet but we had taught him baby signs and he told us he needed to go! We asked him if he could wait until we found a gas station … he did! It was amazing and honestly made our lives much easier. I think he was perhaps four by the time he was fully and completely potty trained including staying dry overnight, but he rarely pooped in his diapers from when he was just a small thing! Elimination Communication… something to love no matter what sort of child you are trying to parent! 😀