In Parts I - III, I spoke of the health concerns that Nathan could possibly have faced at birth and those he may face in the future. Today, we are going to explore the physical and mental challenges.
Down syndrome causes developmental delays and intellectual disabilities in all children - both can range from mild to moderate. Developmental delays are caused because children with Ds are born with some level of low muscle tone. I'll never forget when Nathan was born and my friend Keith came to see us in the hospital - he said "of course Nathan has low muscle tone -he's Danny's son!" hahaha I still laugh about it.
When Nathan's O.T. came on board a few months ago she was surprised and impressed with Nathan's progress because she said it takes a child with low muscle tone 8 to 10 times the effort to do anything a typical child does. That means when Nathan sits up on his own, walks, crawls or picks up a toy - it literally takes him 10x's the effort. You'd never know it - he's so amazing.
The low muscle tone also explains why Nathan can't keep his mouth closed all the time and why persons with Ds can have a protruding tongue. We are really working at trying to help him with this. He's a baby now so not many people notice it but when he's older it could be very noticeable. I don't want that for Nathan - so we work on it constantly. And, it is correctable.
The bottom line is - Nathan will develop just like any other child. He will walk, talk, run around and crawl! Just at his own pace. Will Nathan be crawling by 10 or 11 months? Maybe -maybe not. It doesn't matter. As an aside, Nathan is strong enough to crawl and he's doing really well working on his balance for walking - he just hasn't made the connection yet.
His speech therapist shared that children with Ds tend to reach their early milestones at the same pace as typically developing children until they reach about a year old. Then the difference becomes more apparent.
Most people think, as do we, that Nathan falls on the milder side of the spectrum regarding his low muscle tone and his intellectual disabilities. As Nathan's speech therapist says - you just won't know until you get there. We have no idea what Nathan's abilities will be but we do know that he will have a loving supportive team. We'll help him to learn on his terms.
I'm going to end this post by telling you that most of what Nathan has accomplished and what he will accomplish in the future is in large part to the Early Intervention specialists that work with him week after week. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the federal government for instituting this program and the wonderful therapists that dedicate their lives to our children's well being. Thank you - we are forever indebted to you.