One of the things that someone said to me at the start of the journey was that what they liked about their child with DS was that everything about their development was slowed down just a little bit.
I am beginning to understand what they were talking about. Phoenix is my first child, so I have nothing to compare her to, but I am starting to see little bursts of independence that make me wonder where my baby went.
This week for the first time we went to an indoor children's play area, and I let her have time to explore the structures herself. This was a particularly accessible structure with easy climbing and soft mats everywhere. It was actually perfectly designed for her skill set right now. After I showed her how to get up, I let her have some time exploring it herself. And you know what? She did great! She went up and down with confidence and just needed a little redirection away from the bottom of the slides.
Here she is at home going through her own tunnel:
It was still a busy time for me monitoring where she was etc, but this was the first time I have taken her out and let her explore on her own. It was...wonderful. And a little sad. I am so appreciating the stage she is at right now. I love the snuggles, and kisses and hugs that Husband and I get, both spontaneously and when we ask. She is so affectionate, and we can spin her around and raise her up and blow raspberries on her belly. I know this stage won't last forever. And I appreciate that it is lasting a little bit longer than most parents get, because it is heavenly.
Previously, when I thought about a developmental delay, it was always something really negative. But I don't see it that way with Phoenix. Sure, her development IS delayed. She is behind her peers in many areas. But she is doing great, and slowly gaining independence. Why do we want our kids to grow up so fast anyway?
I have seen this delayed growing up in other youth I have worked with. They are typical kids who just take longer to meet their milestones and to launch into the world. They take much longer to graduate high school because they work slowly through their courses. They live with their parents a little longer, they might take longer to find their path in this world, or to date or meet their life partners. But they are doing just fine.
This is how I think it will transpire for Phoenix. I think she will eventually get there. She will reach independence. It will just take longer before she is fully able to live on her own. There will be more steps, more trial runs, more supports. But she will get there. In her own time.