Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Today was Hannah's playgroup. It is part of her early intervention programme. She has been enrolled since she was about 6 weeks old. When she was a baby the physiotherapist would come and visit us at home once a week. She'd show me how to lift and carry Hannah as well as some exercises to help her get strong enough to be able to hold her head up and so on.
Now Hannah is 19 months old we are working on her gross motor skills (walking and standing alone), fine motor skills (drawing and so on) and communication (expanding her signed and spoken vocabulary). There are two other children in her playgroup, one of whom also has Down Syndrome. She has been going to 'playgroup' since she was 4 months old. Each meeting used to go for 40 minutes but now we are there for at least an hour and a half.
Today there were two staff present (there are always two and often three) - Hannah's physiotherapist and her occupational therapist. The children sat in little seats in 'group corner' and sang songs. Each child has a turn at choosing what they will sing. Hannah chose the frog song and Kit chose Humpty Dumpty. Then they choose what games and activities they would like to do. Hannah played with some blocks, a quoits set, a jack in the box, plastic food bits and a telephone. She correctly identified actions being shown in pictures when presented with a choice of two. She also had a ball in the vestibulator - she loves that swing! They then played with some play dough - Hannah was concentrating very hard at putting in some 'candles' (toothpicks) into the playdough cake she made. Kit loved putting paddlepop sticks into a playdough cat he and I made. Then it is finally time for morning tea. Hannah is getting better at drinking with a straw. At the end of playgroup the children go back to group corner for story time which they all love - the physiotherapist ends up with all of them in her lap! We all sing the goodbye song and go home to play a bit more before lunch and sleep time.
That is Hannah's therapy every week - no hardship is it? We all have lots of fun. The twins grandmother comes too so that Kit has someone to play with when Hannah is busy doing a particular activity. Both children love going and are very familiar in the room and comfortable with the staff there.
I can't really express how very glad I am that such excellent early intervention is available for our family - I shudder to think of the neglect many children with down syndrome must have experienced in the past when institutionalisation was more common and people didn't recognise their amazing potential and the gifts they have to give to the community given half a chance.