Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hannah - Pretty ballerina ...
Just like an old married couple - or maybe not - P and I have separate lounges.

Hannah's IEP

We had Hannah's IEP this morning. It was nice to 'tick off' the goals from last year's one. The special ed teacher and the speech therapist were there. I have't got a copy yet as it needs to be 'prettied' up a bit and they want to check a couple of things with the OT and PT to refine those objectives but the key points are as follows:

Gross motor - increasing difficulty of climbing challenges - the little brat is very keen to climb - and prepare for jumping - this is no doubt still far away but this morning she was trying so hard to 'bounce' with both feet ont he floor or lifting one foot off and then laughing and saying 'more' that I want to try and give her some better help in achieving this goal. Also upper body work.

Fine motor - continue selfdressing (she likes trying this) and investigate 'threading' activities - will run that past OT. Also check with OT re a 'good' tricycle as little brat would love one! Continue drawing horizontal, vertical lines and circles.

Communication - encourage greater vocalisations - words and letters. Foster this across settings as Hannah often says two word utterances at home but not really at EI or childcare.

Preliteracy skills - she is competent at the 9 piece lotto game and ready to move on to black and white shapes lotto and then family names ...

Distinguish 4 primary colours (she can do 2 and sometimes 3 now) in different settings.

Numeracy - counting to 5 using books, objects, fingers.

SO the list of areas to work on and goals to achieve is significantly longer than her last IEP but I feel good about that - there are some goals in there that will really challenge her (and us!).

Getting it out of my system:
Warning - self indulgent post coming up.

I hate conflict - probably because I am so bad at it. Took the twins to a cafe set in a corner of a off leash dog park today. I used to take them there all the time when they were smaller. We were sitting at the tables having our morning tea. A number of large dogs were hanging around - not misbehaving but sniffing food and becuase of their size their heads were pretty much table height. No problems - it is a park for dogs too - we ignored them or gently tried to move them away from our table if they were too persistent in pursuit of food. Along came a lovely golden lab - wet and smelly from the canal. We used tactics as before with her. She moved around and grabbed a piece of cake straight from Kit's hand on the table very lightly nipping him in the process. He started to cry. I put Hannah down from my lap and picked him up. With the side of my leg I nudge the dog away.

A voice yells over 'Don't you dare kick my dog! It's a dog park you know. '
"I didn't kick your dog"I call back.
" I saw you! blah blah blah" She comes over to get her hound who is still hanging around our table. I'm cuddling Kit and trying to calm him by saying 'shh, shh'. The irate and now I realise quite crazy dog owner storms over saying 'Don't you sh me!!!' at which point I confess I yelled 'Get F***!' and said no more to her although now of course I am so annoyed with myself for not handling it better. She got the last word/s walking away chastising me for swearing in front of the children. I left about 20 minutes later and as I walked by she was still loudly talking about 'its a dog park!' to other dog owners.

Me? I came home and cried. I hate confrontation. I hate that I yelled and swore at her. I hate that she was so agressive. I hate that I couldn't put my side to her - that I wasn't able to 'broker' a deal. I love dogs - I love the off leash park (or rather Stella does) but I really feel that it is not unreasonable to want some attempt to control the dog at least from the owner - after all if I take the twins to their 'off leash equivalent' the playground I try and 'control' them - if for some reason there was an altercation with another child I would try and settle it like a grown up but then again after my performance today maybe I would just be one of those psycho mums yelling obsenities - God I hope not!

Cie la vie the off leash for a while - I need some recovery time from a morning ruined by 'dog rage'.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Dressing up ... who will I be today?
People often comment on 'how good' Hannah is (for a brat with DS I presume) and in the next breath say how lucky she is to have a twin. I know that she is lucky to be a twin - it is clearly a special sibling relationship. Just tonight Kit and she had a fight over something and in making up he grabbed her and pulled her down for a cuddle so exuberant that I was worried one or both of them would knock their heads on the concrete arch in our lounge room. Then in the car this afternoon they were arguing like an old married couple. One of them wanted to hold the other's hand and they were objecting - this is a fairly common dispute and the role of handholder and 'other' changes all the time.

I know that Kit is 'good' for Hannah - she watches him and will copy what he does. I also know that Hannah is 'good' for Kit. He copies her (usually in ridiculously fun events). Yet there is a part of me that doesn't like to hear her achievements attributed to her rather bright 'typical' twin. It probably isn't intended this way but in some way I feel it diminishes HER accomplishments. Hannah IS doing well, I can't really say whether it is 'good for a child with DS' or 'good for a 'typical' child' but I can say it is GREAT for my Hannah.

One of the twin's current favourite passtines is dress ups. Very nuch a Hannah directed play activity. I have to acknowledge though that the scarves are copying ne. I like to try and disguise bad hair days with a rather obvious scarf. Still I don't turn it into a dress up gane like Hannah does SO well!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tea for T21 - World Down Syndrome Day
Three years ago I knew very little about Down Syndrome and I don't think I even knew what Trisomy 21 was. I was 2 months pregnant with twins. One month later we found out that Twin 1 had a hole in her heart and that this type of problem was very common in babies with Down Syndrome.

Today, despite the out of sync date on this post, is 21/3/07 (reverse for US!). Down syndrome means that my darling Twin 1 has 3 not 2 copies of chromosome 21. Yes I now know what Trisomy 21 is and I know an amazing lot more about Down Syndrome.

It is World Down Syndrome Day and a bit like a person who has 'seen the light', I want to celebrate the difference that Down Syndrome and its prescence in Hannah has made in our lives. It is a special day for our family. One set aside to particularly help raise awareness in a world where not everyone understands just what it means and consequently can sometimes make hurtful, ignorant and cruel comments or actions about people like 'that'.

Down Syndrome has its challenges. More so for Hannah than for us - I watch her persistence in grabbing life. In being a typical toddler despite her loose joints and her delayed speech development. I see her teach her little brother (her twin) the joy of laughter, the sublime of the ridiculous. I see her gentleness bring out nurturing and patience in her cousins. I see her endless soul in her eyes and her smile. I have been blessed by DS and I hope that everyone who meets my Hannah is not too blind to see the wonder of Hannah - a gorgeous little girl with an extra chromosome.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day Hannah - may the gift of difference be truly appreciated by everyone. You have certainly enriched our lives.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

We went to the Lifestart (Han's EI provider) picnic on Sunday. It was a good day - a chance to catch up with parents and children who attend EI on different days to us. P and I were chatting to some other parents and Kit and Hannah got tired of waiting for the 'picnic' to begin. So Kit got the picnic balnket and set it up under a tree. Then he and Hannah sat down and helped themselves to the food I'd packed - first they opened the container with eggs and ate them, then the container with watermelon in it and then the biscuits. How civilised is that? The brats had a ball - Hannah even passed on a chocolate muffin to keep climbing this piece of equipment with the spiral slide.

PS Will hopefully be getting the camera repaired soon so that should fix the quality of the photoes - can't do much about the photographer's skill though I'm afraid. Lucky the subjects are so photogenic.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Who's Wallace?
Finally I get to post a photo to rival Mauzy's Musings. My inlaws have a student staying with them while she does her final teaching practicum. She brought this shirt for Kit and a soccer one for Hannah. I guess you all know where she hails from.

I have to say that I really enjoy Hannah's EI playgroup. Obviously she is the cutest one there but that is not why. It is because everyone has such fun! Kit loves it - he is participates in the same activities as the others and receives the same praise (he is a great role model for them in fact). Hannah laughs and tries to copy what is happening, the other little ones have fun too, the parents and therapists chat - about the weather, our kids, anything really - it is a lovely way to spend the morning. Today Hannah's PT dropped in - she hasn't seen Hannah so far this year as she focuses on the babies so I was able to show off Hannah and ask her for some ideas to help Hannah strengthen her hips because she really wants to jump but her hula hips are a major obstacle. We have had an offer on the house - unfortunately it is a reasonable offer but not quite enough for what we need. If we accepted it then the buyer would be getting a bargain but we would not have enough for the size of place we need to buy. SIGH! It is so stressful - I hate it - I wish she'd have offered $25 000 more. The housing market is just crazy here - so unpredictable it is hard to know what to do but I don't think we are being greedy. Fingers crossed someone comes up with the money.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hannah is busy constructing a 'car' with the twin's magnetic set.

Maybe he won't be an Elvis impresonating Cello playing pediatrician after all - Hannah and Kit opened their own hair dressing salon in the lounge room this afternoon - and yes he is priming the scissors to cut Mummy's hair. Help!!!

a cape for baby ...

Finish with a brush

Uni lessons Week one

I should be studying Topic 2 - and completing the online quiz for it but first I thought I'd pick a couple of parts form last week's readings that I really liked:

K Wheldall Why do Contemporary Special Educators Favour a Non-Categorical Approach to Teaching? in Special Education Perspectives Vol 3 No 1 1994 - focus on the skills the child needs rather than labelling them - the diagnosis in itself is not helpful - we need to see the student as an individual and assess what they already have and what we can help them to learn. Amen! I also liked the common sense view of the role of IQs (or lack thereof) in effective education and finally the last sentence: "contmeporary Special Educators eschew the category and focus on the specific educational needs of the individual child".

K Wheldall and M Carter Reconstructing Behaviour Analysis in Education: a Revised Behavioural Interactionist Perspective for Special Education in Educational Psychology Vol 16 No 2 1996 had this to say: "One of the concomitants of this view is that we must desist from trying to squeeze people with disabilities into regular society by focusing only on how we can change their behaviour. We must invest more energy into changing aspects of the environment, both physical and social, to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities".

Yay - another mother of a gorgeous little girl with T21 has her experiences published.
Also I was rather pleased to see that Kathy Evans has written a book called Tuesday's Child about her experiences of mothering a child with DS - she won an award for one of two essays I have seen around that she wrote. They are on the NSW DSA website. One is called Pure Love and the other is called Tueday's Child. I found them to be very powerful when I read them in my first year of coming to terms with Hannah's diagnosis. here is the Pure Love link for those of you who are interested:

and Tuesday's Child article:
and I quote:
"I look at my baby, with her beautiful almond eyes, and her slow smile, which starts at the top and spreads downwards so that her whole face beams. All my fears are momentarily quashed, my prejudices melt away. She raises her hands and waves her fingers with all the grace of a Balinese dancer. They are beautiful fingers, long and tapered. Just right for playing the piano. We are back in our bubble, Caoimhe and I, and life is good. The feelings that wrap around my bones are blissful; they warm the very core of my existence. Beautiful girl, we are so lucky to have you. I don’t know where she fits in society, but a family is a world in microcosm. And I do know that right here, right now, she fits perfectly within my arms. "
I blog therefore I am ...

Em from threetimesthree tagged me for 5 reasons why I blog - it was such fun that I had to give 6 reasons!

1 When I was home with the twins I found amazing empathy and excellent company in reading everything I could find about DS – that search lead me to blogland. It was even better than the ‘info’ sites. Here were people (not all special needs Mamas I know) who I could relate to so easily I was really surprised.
2 I like the interactive nature of blogs – how few words can offer so much solidarity and comfort. I feel that I really do form a relationship with the blogs that I read regularly. I care about how they are going.
3 I am interested in people and the ‘me’ on my blog is a bit more ‘revealed’ than the me you might meet out shopping. So the Shamptons gives me an opportunity to be more reflective than I might otherwise be.
4 I find so many people with amazing stories, wonderful children and interesting viewpoints – I like the challenge that presents me with in trying to understand different perspectives. And I can get some wonderful 'hands on' advice from those who have 'been there, done that' or like me are trying to work something out too.
5 Fun – I enjoy smiling at some of the beautiful photos. I feel like I am traveling on life’s journey and that there are a whole host of others walking my way, their way.
6 Lastly – the brats have already changed so much my blog is something that I hope they will read one day – and see and understand just how much love that I and their father have for them. A diary to give to them later on.

So thanks fellow bloggers and blogspot - I love ya!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

If play is children's work then Hannah and Kit are very diligent children. Yesterday they began the day with some construction, attended music class, had a haircut each and spent the afternoon 'working' ...

Kit is fascinated by the concept of work. Here is his idea fo tie and belt attire that one needs for work. THe twin's Nan couldn't babysit them today so he got his wish and came to work with Mummy.

All that work makes toddlers hungry for a snack.

Some doll play and hat making fun.

Scarves are an essential toybox (or straight from Mum's draws) item

Music, of course

Books - absolutely!
Play is children's work ...

Hannah and Kit showed remarkable teamwork in constructing this car - and all before breakfast too.
No wonder I feel like I have done very little yet have been very busy! I have survived the first week of uni but this week's topic is Measurement and data collection - NOT a strong point I am afraid.