I know that not everyone in the US (and even more when you look globally) has these resources in their back yard like I do. We are the 1% and I'm grateful for this. Some people have to travel very far distances to be near all the services we take advantage of, just 15-20 minuted from our house. But regardless what you have in your back yard, our greatest resource can be others who are traveling through a similar life path. I'd bet you that there is another person or family with Down syndrome or another disability relatively close. In fact I did bet, and I found way more than I ever dreamed I'd find.
Thus, one of my greatest resources: The East Side Mom's Group and Playgroup.
We are a group of approximately 50 or so families of kids with that [EXTRA] 21st. Yes, I said 50. In just one area of the city. I about passed out when I heard that number. I thought, I really don't see that many kids with Ds around town. But I realized that I wasn't looking.When I did look, I found a wonderful resource of older and younger Mom's and families of kids with Down syndrome. Kids with unique personalities, likes and dislikes, and varying abilities and gifts. I was hooked from the beginning. I am so incredibly proud to be a part of this group. We are a group of resourceful, dedicated, educated and strong women. What I don't know about one aspect of Down syndrome, someone else does. The older Mom's help us newbies find our way and pass down information. The newbies help remind the Mom's of older kids how sweet it was to have a baby and also just how far they've come. It's a perfect system (or at least pretty close)!
We try and get together in two ways: a playgroup and a Mom's night out. Each of these two events run about every 6-8 weeks. It's a great way to see other Mom's, let the kids play together in a peer group and just keep plugged into what's happening with everyone. It's great because, sometimes it's tough to go out in the world and see all the things other people's kids are doing at Wyatt's age. I see kids that are giants compared to his slight frame and weight. I see other kids who are walking, talking and into everything. And I see parents who love to share about how great their child is. Yes, I know you think your child is gifted at one year, and that's great (really, it is). But some days, I'm just not ready to hear it. Some days I've just come from therapy where I'm grossly aware that Wyatt cannot crawl yet, and is probably months away from doing so; or that he has very transient skills that are here one day, not there the next and don't return for long periods. But when I'm with my Mom's group, I am with people who get this. I'm with people have walked in my shoes. More importantly, I'm with people who can remind me how great our lives really are and with people who celebrate the little things (thanks for reminding us to do that, Kelle Hampton). Instead of Wyatt being the obvious tiny little guy in the room, he's in the mix of other kids who are like him. Don't get me wrong: I think it is vastly important for Wyatt to be around other typical kids his age and older. And I am in no way saying that I can't or am unwilling to celebrate your beautiful, typical child (quite the contrary). But sometimes, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels that tinge of "different" sometimes. I love that I can get advice from these women and families and bounce ideas off them about various things, like how to incorporate therapy into our everyday lives (thanks to Missy Skavlem for that one).
Overall, it's just a really nice addition to our lives. I joke that it's our new [EXTRA]ordinary family; a family I never knew I wanted to be a part of. And that makes me happy.
CORRECTION: I'm told we have over 100 members in the Eastside Group!! However, approximately 52 are considered "active members" and included on our private Facebook page!
Our most recent playgroup at The Honeybee Bookstore in Maderia, OH. We had a little private concert by April Eight and lots of fun with all the kids...of all abilities!
|April Eight captivates. Well, kind of, haha : )|
|Wyatt (the little one in the center) flirts with Becca (with the bow in her hair)|
|Yay, Nora! Look how strong you're getting!|
|My beautiful Eden (in blue) and handsome Wyatt, Becca and her sister next and Sean in the back|
|Shake, it Wyatt! (I love those cheeks)|