The Hailey Herald

The Hailey Herald

Friday, July 25, 2014

Challenges...Summer blog hop

I'm on a roll now! I think this will catch me up on the summer blog hop that my friend, Meriah coordinated. Today's topic is Challenges. I think this subject is more difficult for me than my letter to my younger self. I feel that the challenges of raising a child with Down syndrome goes in waves. It can be extremely difficult at times and just when we feel like you cannot take it any longer, the waves crests and glides you to shore and life balances out again.

I think a large factor in this is the birth order of your child with Ds. Hailey is number 3. By the time she was born, I had a 7 year old and a 3 1/2 year old. Yes, they both reached milestones at different ages, but they were still similar and close to the same. Actually with some things, my second did mastered them earlier trying to keep up with his big brother. Then along comes Hailey who is delayed. I had data and memories to compare her development to. Sometimes that can be overwhelming. It was hard watching her struggle with simple tasks that her brothers seemed to master overnight or even in their sleep. I didn't know how to break down the process of sitting up or standing for her. Gross motor planning comes easy to most typical children. Unfortunately, that is not always the case with a child with Down syndrome. We needed to break down each milestone into a dozen or so components. I am an impatient person...this makes Ds a challenge on many days! It seemed every time I was ready to give up "she's not going to every crawl, walk, etc.",she would make an advancement or meet her milestone. Trust me, if I could will this child to master her milestones, she would have been running at a year. Gross motor delays are a huge challenge to accept early on. When you are out and about, you see parents holding hands with their one year old while walking at the park. You look at your child sheepishly knowing she has just mastered crawling. No, in the grand scheme of life, it is not a big deal, but in that moment, it is. Sometimes I find myself dealing with jealousy over typical children because simple tasks come so easy to them when Hailey had to struggle with each and every one of them.

 As much as a challenge that gross motor was, it doesn't compare to the intellectual side of things. I always "knew" that Hailey would crawl, walk, run, etc. Intellectually there are no guarantees. I grew up getting straight A's and graduating valedictorian of my high school class. I attended college on a full ride scholarship because of those grades. In short, I grew up...if you get good grades, you will go to college and you will be successful. With that mentality, you look at a child with developmental does that translate? It's hard letting that go. When I say that to some people, I get a small sympathetic smile followed with a "it will be ok". Really, is it your child? No. You push your child to get good grades. I push my boys to get good grades. It's hard to change that mentality to pushing for progress and not perfect grades. Yes, I'm getting there, but it's hard. It's difficult to hear children Hailey's age carry on full conversations with their parents, recite their alphabets, count, etc. Hailey is not there yet. She will get there some day, but we don't know when. We don't know what her future holds. Will she attend a program at a college? What will her dreams of her future be?

 I've encountered other challenges that I never gave much thought about before. When we received Hailey's diagnosis, I received a crash course in terminology that I never heard or even knew existed. Medical terms for her heart and Down syndrome, organizations I didn't know existed, tests that needed run on Hailey that I didn't know anything about, educational jargon that made my head spin. Even now, I feel like there is so much I don't know that I need to know. Things that I am afraid I'm going to miss with her that will cause her to be less successful in the future.

The biggest challenge I am having being a parent to Hailey is the fear that I am not enough. That I'm not a good enough parent. That I am not a good enough teacher. That I haven't done enough research. That I don't work with her enough. That I am going to short change her in some way. Society will judge her based on her outward appearance, by her speech, by her mannerisms, her reading and math skills.  What if I don't do enough now. Will someone think she is less of a person later?  What if I don't do enough now...what happens when I am no longer around?

No matter what challenges arise with my little girl and her disability, I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world.  All the challenges we have overcome thus far with Hailey pale in comparison to what we get in return.

Take a minute to read some of the other challenges below...


  1. Great post! It is like you said, I knew Ellie would crawl, walk, etc but I also assumed speech would be there too. Now, I am slowly learning to understand Ellie's challenges with speech. It seems so daunting when I was told sign language would be the way to go. . . um, I only knew how to spell my name and sign vomit, nurse, hospital, hurt. That wasn't going to get me far! Intellectual challenges--yes! Exactly! Like you said, we do not know what the future holds, but I bet it is going to be pretty awesome.

  2. I have the exact same fears you I teaching Owen enough? Am I pushing him to be the best he can be? And you know what I've been thinking lately.....he IS going to learn what he needs to learn, even if we take time off in the summer to just BE and to just relax. If we are constantly pushing all the time, we aren't giving them the chance to learn for themselves either. They need to be just like typical kids and simply learn. We are there to guide--not shove it down their throats. They are clever--they will learn all they need to know!