Thursday, September 19, 2013

Down Syndrome Play Date

When I first received Addison's diagnosis, my OB Gyn gave me the name and number of someone locally who I could call and talk to. In fact, many people gave me this same person's phone number. Someone who had a child with Down syndrome. Someone who would be a great resource. Someone who would understand.

But I could not emotionally handle calling that number. To me it would be admitting it. Making it final. Plus, I could get past "Hi my name is Deanna" and then sobbing when I would imagine out the rest of that conversation.

I never called. I lost the phone number.

When Addison was first born, we got all these emails about a local support group for families who have a child with Down syndrome, and we finally attended our first one when Addison was about six months old.

It was too soon. To me- seeing all of the older kids with Down syndrome broke my heart just a little bit more. Is that what I had to look forward to? Would my cute little baby turn out exactly like all of these other children/teenagers? I came home crying. Depressed. I could not handle looking that far into the future.

We didn't do the Buddy Walk that first year. We weren't ready. Plus, Addison had her second heart surgery in Boston that same month.

But as time has marched on, my attitude toward all of this has changed. Now that we have reached some of the communication frustrations that come with a three year old who has difficulty expressing herself verbally, it is SO encouraging me to interact with an older individual with Down syndrome who can speak. Sentences. Thoughts. Opinions.

It is beyond amazing to sit down with another mom who has an older child with Down syndrome and talk local doctors, school systems, philosophies on teaching, and just frankness on such issues as actual age versus developmental age. To me it no longer seems like I am looking at an exact mirror copy of what my daughter will be like in X amount of years. It is now a chance to learn and appreciate another individual/family who has fought and thrived in this journey longer than we have.

This week we had just such a play date. And it was just what the doctor ordered. To see that future potential; to hear that my frustrations are normal; to see first hand a big girl who has successfully worked through some of the same stuff that Addison is dealing with now- this play date was truly a breath of fresh air.

Angelina (at 11.5) seriously talks so clearly with such a wide vocabulary range. Impressive, inspirational, and encouraging all at once!

(Pictures posted with permission) 
Angelina and Addison:
Plus, this play date came with a sibling set which meant that someone else graciously chased after my kids while I put my feet up. (-: Bonus!
It's strange, when I used to see someone out and about with Down syndrome, I used to get the shakes. And sweats. Should I talk to them? Should I not? How would it make me feel it I talked to them but then I couldn't understand them?

Now I see someone out and about with Down syndrome- I might say something. I might not. But I always smile. And say "hi." I recognize our bond- both small and big at the same time. And sometimes this moves into longer conversations if this bond is recognized both ways. And sometimes not. And that's OK too.

It was really wonderful this week to sit on our deck and chat with a complete stranger who instantly became a friend because of this bond.

Thank you, Michelle, Angelina, and Elizabeth for a great afternoon!

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