My older kids have asked me why we celebrate every little accomplishment of Joseph's. The first answer I give goes something like this: Well, he's the littlest one in the house and it's just plain fun to celebrate his accomplishments. True enough but not the whole truth and they know it. So again they ask what's all the celebrating about. Then I go into this long speech which goes something like this: Since Joseph has Down syndrome we can't be completely sure of how far he will develop. And what comes easily for typical kids his age requires a great deal of effort on his part and patience on our part. So we celebrate with enthusiasm when he uses a new sign correctly, makes an animal sound when reading a farm book, tries to put on his own socks, rocks a baby doll, "hunts" with the big boys, kicks a rubber ball, puts his hands out to catch a ball. All these things show us that he is more like us than different. And each new accomplishment paves the way for further development. It all comes down to us loving and encouraging Joseph and yes we did celebrate your accomplishments as a baby, too. It just appears different because it is different. With all of you I expected you to learn to walk, use a spoon, and say mama at the typical time and with the typical amount of effort, but with Joseph I know the milestones will be met later and some might not be met at all so I celebrate with gusto each and every one of them. I'm sure I lose them somewhere in the middle of the first sentence. That's ok because they don't want to see me get teary eyed and I don't want to see them roll their eyes.
When it's determined that your child has Down syndrome whether before or at birth, it's natural for the mind to start making a list of all the can'ts and won'ts. I know I did before Joseph was born. I wish I hadn't because he is more alike than different. His milestones just come a little slower than "normal". So far his list of cans and wills is much longer than his list of can'ts and won'ts. Yeah Joseph!
A while back I shared our attempt at teaching Joseph to use a spoon. The progress was slow, painfully slow. So slow that I began shying away from gloppy foods like pudding and yogurt because the mess made and time spent cleaning up was not worth it to me. He still had utensils at every meal and we encouraged him to use them but I didn't work at getting him to use them. Last week I noticed that his hold of the spoon was consistent and started hand over hand feeding. I stood behind him and placed my hand over his hand while guiding the spoon to his mouth. We tried this with yogurt and it went very well. He got it. He did it himself. I took this video of him on the second day of correct spoon use. Once I brought out the camera he got distracted a bit, but if you watch the whole thing you'll see that he finally did take a few bites on his own.