Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The End of Summer :(

The summer has gone by way too fast. I don't know how it slipped away from me. There was a whole lot less floating in the pool than I had anticipated....and a whole lot more of driving my teenagers everywhere. Jordan babysat 3 days per week, so for the 1st time ever, she wasn't around every day. That was sad for both Jessie and me, Evan didn't really care unless he was asked to do an extra chore because she was gone :)

We are trying this week to get into something that resembles a routine, that definitely isn't one of my strengths. I'd rather be flexible and fly by the seat of my pants, but have realized, sadly, that doesn't work well for us. We found last year that Evan has a sleep disorder, so partly for that reason we are trying to get up at the same time everyday (not Jessie, we tiptoe around trying to keep that little monster asleep as long as possible:) I'm sure that no matter what modifications we make, we will never be as structured as many other homeschool families, but we are working on some improvements. I have always loved the flexibility of homeschooling and am not willing to give up more of it than is required for my sanity.

This summer, although we didn't work on any academics with Jessie, we made real progress in some other areas. If you are reading this and you DON'T have a child with Down syndrome, some of these milestones may not seem like much. If you DO have a child with Down syndrome, I'm sure you're cheering with me! With the school year pressures of having 3 homeschooling kids, it is hard to slow down enough to teach the skills that give Jessie more independence. I always feel desperate for her to learn those skills, yet find it difficult to slow down to work on many of them. This summer Jessie learned to buckle her own seatbelt. This was SUCH a relief! Up till now I'd been lifting or partially lifting Jessie to get her out of the car. We decided she was big enough that she didn't have to ride in a booster seat anymore. She weighs at least 85 pounds and is tall enough that the seatbelt rests in approximately the right place on her shoulder. I'd been having a little complication (mild uterine prolapse) that caused me to want to find ways to eliminate having to lift her. Once we got her out of the booster seat we were able to teach her to step down the side of the van holding my hand and the hand strap on the van. After a few weeks now of doing this, more often she is getting out entirely by herself, by sitting down on the floor first. As soon as she could buckle the seat belt we started working on shutting her door by herself. She can do this now, if she remembers to do it before she puts her seat belt on. This past spring we got new tennis shoes with velcro, now she can put on (most) socks and shoes by herself. These seemingly small steps of independence have been so exciting to me.

We haven't reached success level yet with the following skills, but are working on teeth brushing, hair washing/bathing, and picking up after herself around the house in various ways. As long as we buy the pump toothpaste she can fix her own tooth brush and has made real progress with brushing her bottom teeth, but we still have quite a way to go before she can do it alone. More often we are making her put away, some of her things, she drags out way too much for her to be able to do it alone, but we are trying to help her realize dragging out more = more clean up. One skill we are less thrilled about: she can now unchain the door. We've always counted on that extra measure of security keeping her in the house. Unlike some other kids I know with DS, Jessie doesn't like to be alone, so she has no real desire to go outside by herself. I worry though that she could open the door to someone when I'm in the shower or try to let the dogs out and get distracted. It is very helpful that most often there is someone else always home when I shower.

Well, if I am to keep to my appointed time to get up in the morning, I must go to bed :)  I was excited to share these new accomplishments with you, my blog friends, knowing you would understand and be excited with us.