As a parent of a child with special needs, there are some questions that you get routinely enough that you are tempted to tattoo your child on the forehead with the answer.
(And I’ll take this second to reiterate that I’d ALWAYS rather someone ASK a question than assume and have the wrong information! Please always feel free to ask!!!)
One of those questions I get is “Will she ever walk?”
My response has always the same: OF COURSE! And since she started walking, I’ll casually put Piper down or take her out of the stroller so that they can see for themselves (under the auspices of an antsy toddler, of course…) I think it bugs me mostly because it’s so obviously a (completely misguided) stereotype.
Kids with Down syndrome have a tendency toward low muscle tone. They aren’t as strong and they have a harder time with muscle coordination than their typical peers. This makes motor functions (gross motor like sitting, walking, running, and fine motor like pincer grasps, coloring, and writing) significantly more difficult.
It does not, however, mean that our kids are incapable of accomplishing these milestones. Sure, they may come a bit later, and sure, they require more work to get there, but they DO get there.
Just like their typical peers, no two kiddos with Ds are the same. They all do things on their own time, and often times, in their own order (Piper, for example, was pulling to stand and cruising before she could get herself INTO a sitting position on her own). But it doesn’t mean that they all learn to walk when they’re, say, eight years old. Piper:
- Sat well enough not to worry that she’d tip at 9 months (7 months adjusted for her prematurity)
- Army crawled at 11 months (9 adjusted) and quadraped (hands-and-knees) crawled at 14 months (12 adjusted)
- Cruised at 12 months (10 adjusted)
- Walked 15 feet independently at 19 months (17 adjusted)
Not that different, is it? Just because a kid has Ds doesn’t mean that they’ll be significantly delayed in all (or any!) area. “We” (ie Piper) worked really hard and had many therapy sessions to help her reach these milestones, but the point is that she DID meet them. Piper does fairly well when it comes to gross motor skills, but there are other areas that are more difficult for her (like speech- more on that later, though). All kids have their own areas of expertise and areas that don’t come as easily. That little extra genetic material doesn’t change that!