Nathan is Hebrew and means "gift from God" - we couldn't have been more blessed than to have been chosen as his parents!

Thank you for keeping up-to-date with Nathan. We hope you visit often and enjoy experiencing our son's journey as much as we do. Please feel free to leave comments.

We love hearing from everyone!!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Does a woman's right to choose...(Part 1)

lead to the discrimination of the disabled? You decide.

The abortion of a fetus due to “serious physical or mental defects” is prohibited under Spanish statute, but a recent report found that even with these laws, 94.5% of such pregnancies are terminated. The birth of children with Down syndrome in Spain over the past fifteen years has been cut in half from 1 in 600 live births to 1 in 1,000. Has the Spaniard’s insatiable quest for perfection contributed to the increased incidence of abortion of the disabled?

Is it logical to consider such actions discrimination of disabled persons and therefore a criminal offense, or is it simply a woman’s right over her body? This report set off a fury within the Catholic Church and given an age old debate new significance.

Director Miguel Cruz of the Fudacion Vida in Spain called this “a silent and dramatic paradox” and he surmises that persons with Down syndrome are in danger of extinction. Spain is not alone.

Women around the globe are choosing to terminate their pregnancies once prenatal tests reveal a child has Down syndrome. In the United States, the Down syndrome termination rate is 92% - 1 in 733 children are born with the syndrome. Similar statistics are reported for France, Canada, and England.

Although, Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal anomaly, the high incidence of abortion in western countries is startling and disturbing. The facts show, that most children born with Down syndrome are born to parents who received the diagnosis postnatal.

What is it about children with special needs that’s so awful or scary that women are opting for such dramatic measures?

Find out tomorrow...

Friday, October 24, 2008

How will Ds affect Nathan's development (Part IV)

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.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Surprised By Disability"

Libby over at Blessings and Glory has a post about a recent article in Christianity Today, that discusses the treatment of persons with disabilities around the world and the need for Churches to begin offering disability ministries.

The end of the article is my favorite - the author, Al Hsu, a father of a son with Ds says that Ds has "become for us a window into the joy of the kingdom of God." If you are blessed to know a person with Ds that attends church you know exactly what he means. I can't wait to experience the bible through my sons eyes or life for that matter. Enjoy...

Christianity Today

"...Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche communities, which bring abled and disabled people together under one roof, warns in Living Gently in a Violent World that in a few years there may be no more children with Down syndrome in France because they will have all been aborted. In China, babies with disabilities are often abandoned. Extremist groups in the Middle East have even used people with mental disabilities as unwitting suicide bombers. The church must advocate on behalf of those most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Care for the disabled is a global justice issue.

The 2000 U.S. Census found that 19.4 percent of the population is affected by physical or intellectual disability. One in 140 children now has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the 2007 Annual Review of Public Health. Cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, spina bifida, Alzheimer's, and a host of other conditions affect millions. If you don't currently know someone with a disability, chances are that you will.

All of us are only temporarily abled. We are only a car accident or stroke away from disability. As Joan Mahler, coordinator of L'Arche USA, told me, "All of us are abled in some ways and disabled in others. People with developmental disabilities often help all of us understand our own brokenness."

Please refer to the above link for the entire article - it's definitely worth your time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Halloween Safety! Be Aware!

The safety of my son is without a doubt my number one priority and I'm sure I'm not alone.

In just over a week, children across America will be heading out to go treat-or-treating but this day can bring with it some unique challenges for parents. The last thing you want is for you or your child to end up on the front porch of a convicted felon or sex offender. Last year, my county mandated all sex offenders stay in their home on Halloween and the authorities made spot checks to ensure compliance. However, that doesn't do a bit of good when your child rings their door bell.

I spent 8 years as a Crime Analyst and I have a very close friend who sits on the parole board -any normal motherly concerns I would have had are elevated to code red - all the time. I know what is possible and you need to be mindful as well!

Before you and your child head out on Halloween be armed with information that can help keep them safe and ensure an excited time filled with lots of treats. I've provided two links that you can use to see where criminals live.

For those of you that live in New York - I've included a link to the State's official sex offender website. The other, Family Watchdog is national organization and includes "all" offenders.

Be safe and have a Happy Halloween!

Family Watchdog

New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just in!

I just got off the phone with the doctor - Nathan's thyroid test came back normal!

That's My Boy! Shop, shop, shop!

This was the first time Nathan sat in a shopping cart all by himself!

He was so excited to be part of the shopping experience. He really could have sat in a cart long before now but I just think it was easier to just put his car seat in the cart. And, just for the record - it took me 10 minutes to figure out how to put this cover on!

Monday, October 20, 2008

How will Down syndrome affect Nathan's health (Part II)

In Saturday's post I discussed how Nathan's health could've been affected by a heart defect, digestive malformations, and frequent respiratory infections. Today, I'll focus on some other common health concerns among persons with Ds - vision, hearing, thyroid, and cancer.

Nathan will probably experience some sort of vision problem within his lifetime. Approximately, 70% of children with Ds have a vision related concern that could include being cross eyed. It is also likely that Nathan will have some level of hearing loss - it may be a selective hearing problem but so far so good! I'll keep you posted on this one.

Nathan has had several hearing tests and is scheduled for a retest in November. Nathan has also visited the pediatric opthomologist and his vision was within the "normal range" for a child of Nathan's age.

Hypothyroidism is also a concern among those with Ds - Nathan was tested at birth and the results were fine. He was tested again this week and we're currently awaiting those results.

THE BIG ONE - the incidence of Leukemia is 15 to 20% higher for children with Ds. This literally keeps me up at night and we pray that God spares Nathan of this challenge. Please keep him in your prayers. I'm not sure of the exact test date but I think it's somewhere around 15 months old.

That's it for today! In Part III, we'll move away from the straight medical concerns and talk about dental concerns, developmental delays, and mental capacity. Stay tuned!

Babies With Down Syndrome: A New Parent's Guide