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!