Here's a little snippet from OT yesterday:
Emily had Finn playing with shaving cream on a mirror. He was quite enthralled by it (I think especially by the cute little boy who did all the things he did and made all the sounds he made). She comes up with all kinds of creative activities to engage Finn - like having him retrieve little pom-poms from a plastic ice cube tray - excellent practice of the pincer grasp.
Finn is very vocal these days, and it feels so much like he's just on the brink of . . . something. He clearly wants to talk with us, and I believe that hidden in there is an ability to develop spoken language. He's trying so hard.
- He now says "mama" and "dada" in context.
- He claps his hands and gives a hearty "YAYYY!!" when pleased with something (sounds like "AAAAHHHH!!"
- He mimics me saying "Shhhh!" (Sounds like "tthhhh")
- He mimicked me saying "water" the other day (sounded like "addah")
Oh, and also, he does this fake cry when I tell him "no" (because the truth is, the boy is into EVERYTHING). Clearly, he's not above a little manipulation to try to get his way about things.
I remember shortly after Finn was born, I started reading Babies With Down Syndrome, and I got to the part that stated very matter-of-factly that children with Down syndrome are mentally retarded. It hit me like a brick to the chest. I knew next to nothing about Down syndrome at that point. I guess I had some vague understanding that they were the ones who were in the Special Ed classes when I was in grade school. To me, they were just oddities, slightly strange-looking people, usually with bad haircuts, who lumbered about awkwardly. My mother referred to them as Mongoloids when I was a kid - I think that was just the still-accepted terminology back then. I probably only saw a handful of people with Ds in my entire life before Finn was born. So I just didn't know much at all about it, what it would mean for us, for our family. When I read in that book that my son is mentally retarded, I was horrified and scared. What did it mean? I envisioned him growing into one of those people with a bad haircut and ill-fitting clothes. I envisioned our relationship always being one of caretaking, and not one that involved any two-way interaction.
For the longest time, coming to terms with the mental retardation piece of it was the hardest part of the whole thing for me. Not because I had this need to have brilliant, high-achieving offspring, but because I very much wanted to know that I would be able to have an actual relationship with my son that went beyond my leading him around.
And I remember posting about my struggle here, and Tara Marie over at Emma Sage telling me that as you go along, the whole mental retardation thing means less and less in your daily life. I didn't believe her. I thought it would always be this glaring neon sign we'd be dealing with - a gargantuan elephant in the room.
But Tara was right. It means less and less these days. Really, what does it mean at all? It means that it takes Finn longer to master certain skills. It means that he has a learning disability, and learning will take him longer than it takes the average kid. It means that some concepts he might never fully grasp.
Right now, it's just not a big deal. And that's the truth.