Eli had his Early Intervention evaluation on Monday. The therapist agreed that he is very strong and scores right along with his typical peers. In fact, if he didn’t have Down syndrome he wouldn’t have qualified for services since right now he shows no delays. But, Down syndrome is an automatic qualifier. Babies with DS tend to start out on an even playing field with typical babies. Then, with some skills, they start to fall behind. The goal of Early Intervention is to try and keep them even, or at least close, to other children. Right now, there’s not much to look at besides the basic motor skills of a 6 week old – Can he grasp a finger? Hold up his head? Follow objects with his eyes? Yes, yes, and yes. And guess what else Eli can do? He can smile!!! A few days ago he looked right into his Daddy’s eyes and gave him the biggest smile. It was heartwarming to witness. Those two have a very special bond.
I really liked our physical therapist. I was so relieved. I’ve heard too many horror stories of bad therapists. Right away I knew we were on the same page when one of the first things she said to me was, “Eli is your child, he is NOT a diagnosis”. Thankfully she sees our baby as a person. She understands that he is not defined by Down syndrome. He will do everything at his own pace and she is excited to help us get there. At our next appointment we’ll set goals for Eli’s progress. What do I want to see him do in 6 months? I used to write goals all the time in my past life as a Director of Sales. We called them SMART goals. They had to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Trackable. When she told me to write down goals I instantly thought back to what I was taught in sales. Could I give my son realistic goals? Would they be achievable? I didn’t want to set him, or myself, up for failure. In six months I want to look back at our goals and be able to check some things off. I asked the therapist how I could make sure Eli met the goals we set for him. She answered that he’ll do things at his own pace. We will do specific exercises that will help him but we can’t guarantee that he’ll master the skill in time to ‘check it off the list’. I’ll still write SMART goals for him – we will celebrate each ‘check mark’ and focus on what still needs to be done. Each milestone will be a victory. He may have to work harder and longer to reach that milestone than typical children. That will give us even more reason to CELEBRATE! Our son is teaching us to appreciate and recognize the little things in life. Where we once celebrated and cheered when Cody walked for the first time, with Eli we’ll celebrate and cheer when he sits up or holds a rattle. Maybe we should’ve been celebrating those achievements with Cody as well. But, that seems like a lifetime ago. Back when we saw life differently. Now, we are constantly reminded to slow down and take life as it’s handed to us. That old saying, stop and smell the roses has never made more sense.
Now, we’re headed out to smell some pine as we go in search of the Harrington Christmas tree! A little later than usual but with a wild 2 year old in the house, the less time we have the tree up and decorated the less time we give him to destroy it. Ahhh – ‘Tis the season!!!