Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Conquering the Pig

Okay...it may seem silly to write a blog post about a toy pig. This isn't just any pig though. This particular pig has been in my life for over a year now, and it has been my nemesis from the beginning.
This toy was recommended to us by Camden's occupational therapist a while back. The pig is supposed to be great for working on fine motor skills. I think almost every friend I have that has a child with Ds either has or had this lovely pig at one point in time. I don't even know where we got the thing because I never see it in stores. I'm sure it was one of many purchases from Planet Amazon. I bought the pig with excitement and was ready to see what all the hype was about.

I have disliked this pig since day one. It looks like lots of fun, but it's deceiving. You put the coins in the little piggy's back while it plays fun music. Easy, right? Hah! Sure, it may be easy for a lot of your kids. Just put the coin in and enjoy. Nope. Not at our house. For those of you who have the pig, and have struggled with the pig, know what I'm talking about. Camden tried one time on his own in the beginning. He was pretty young, so he couldn't quite get that blasted coin in. I would guide his little hand to the slot and help him put it in. After about two times, he got frustrated and gave up. He would then just throw the coins. All 10 coins thrown all over the room. Coins under the bed. Coins in the trash. Coins in the laundry. There were plastic coins everywhere. I wasn't going to give up though. I was determined to beat that pig. We worked on it frequently, and each time he still couldn't get it. There was that little smirk on that piggy's face, and it was like he was laughing at me each time.

Even though I despised that little pig, we kept doing it. I just knew he would get it very soon. Each time Camden would try one coin. He still couldn't get it in, so the throwing commenced. Sometimes he would throw the coins at the pig. He would bang the coins against the pig, and sometimes would toss the pig across the room. I must admit that I got some sick pleasure out of him beating up the pig. Take that, you pink little plastic pig!

We put the pig away for a couple of months. He didn't seem interested in it, and we all know how I felt about the thing. Well, the other day I decided to let the pig come out and play. I'm happy to report that Camden has FINALLY mastered that stinkin' pig!!! He can get those coins in like nobody's business! I must say that the pig and I are now besties. We play together almost every single day. Oh, and I'm so proud of you, Camden!


Sunday, May 3, 2015

He Is Who He Is

I believe that all children, and adults, have their own strengths and weaknesses. When Carter was a baby, gross motor activities were definitely his weakness. He was not the baby that sat up early. He was not an early walker. I remember my friends had babies that walked at 10 months, but not Carter. I don't even think he was crawling at 10 months. It was more around a year old. He finally took his first steps around 15 months, and became a full time walker at 16 months. It wasn't abnormal, but it was later than most. When he wasn't saying many words at 2 years old, people expressed their concerns to us many times. We had him evaluated for speech therapy twice, and he did not qualify either time. His receptive language was always off the charts, but his expressive language was lacking. We let it go and decided he would get there eventually. He didn't say much at 2 years old, but he knew his colors, shapes, abc's, and numbers. That was his strength. He now talks NON STOP at five years old. His coordination, however, is not the best. Apparently he still struggles with gross motor skills. That's just him.
When Camden came along it was a little different. We knew that he would have delays in motor skills and language skills. There's a wide age range of what's considered 'normal' for kids with Ds. For example, standing alone can happen anywhere from 1-3.25 years. Children with Ds can say their first word or walk alone anywhere from 1-4 years. It's a big range. The term 'high-functioning' and 'low-functioning' gets thrown around a lot with kids with special needs. I wouldn't say that I hate those labels, but I don't particularly care for them either. We don't go around measuring the functioning of our typical peers. Heck, I'm barely functioning most days, but my friends don't say "Diane is low-functioning."
I bring this up because we had a couple of different experiences in the past couple of months. Camden had his adenoids out in February, and it was the first time anyone mentioned his 'functioning.' We were in the pre-op room getting him all prepped and I turned on the TV for him. I found Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (which happens to be his favorite) and he instantly smiled and started clapping. He raises his arms and says "key", which is his word for Mickey. The nurse looks over at Camden smiling and says, "He's high-functioning, isn't he?!" She was being very complimentary and sweet, but I wasn't sure what to say. I just smiled back and left it at that. It was interesting to see what her perspective of  'high-functioning' was.
In March I had an appointment with a new PCP and I took Camden along with me. He gets a little impatient when I keep him strapped in his stroller, so I have to find ways to entertain him. I sat my phone on the chair in front of his stroller and turned on Mickey. The doc was asking questions about the stressors in my life and we started going into Camden's birth and the diagnosis of Ds. She asked me if Camden was 'high or low functioning.' I was kind of in a moment of shock by the question. Do people really just ask that? I told her I didn't know what she meant. She then says "well...is he walking yet?"  I told her he wasn't and said that I don't really consider that a measure of his functioning. She kind of gave me that look of pity and said, "oh ok." Then she gave me a little condescending pat on the shoulder. It was a bit awkward after that and I left feeling a little disappointed with this new doctor that I chose. Really, I was pissed.
Within a month we had two different opinions of what was considered 'high and low functioning.' I don't put a label on Camden. He has his strengths and weaknesses just like any other kid. He doesn't crawl on his hands and knees. He can't walk. He doesn't stand independently. He still struggles with using a fork and spoon. His fine motor skills are still lacking. He doesn't know his shapes and colors. He does know how to bring the TV remote to us and ask for "key" or "Peppa."  He can read about 15 sight words. He knows around 60-70 signs. He can verbalize about 20 words appropriately. He gives the best kisses and hugs. His smile lights up a room. I could go on and on about what Camden can and can't do. All I can say is that he is who he is...and he's pretty perfect!