This little girlie is impressing me daily. I know, no big surprise there, right?
You want to know what she just started doing? She's playing "So big!" Now, it's modified, since she only wants to clap and play with my hands rather than hers. Yesterday when I asked "How big is Cora?" she grabbed my hands and lifted them up in the air. And she's done it consistently since then.
Also, today she took my hands but was trying something different, pushing them together oddly and looking at me expectantly. It was then that I realized she wanted me to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider." I then proceeded to have to sing it about 10 times, until I tuckered out and put her down for a nap. I've also noticed that she is now responding when I ask her (verbally and with a sign) if she wants milk.
Now those of you with kids who are neurotypical may just think that's no big deal, that she should be doing those things at just short of 10 months old.
But the big deal of it is that until now I had no idea whether she was processing language or understanding me. And that nagging little worry has been sneaking its way into my life. So she takes longer to crawl and walk? That's fine by me, since she'll get there and I know that. But the unknown is how she'll do cognitively. We can expect a mild to moderate cognitive disability but for now it's still an unknown. And that unknown stings a little, especially now that she is old enough that her delays in cognitive development are starting to show.
I had been getting a little worried about whether she was understanding spoken words. She doesn't really mimic things that we say or sounds that we make, but she will mimic gross motor (for example: if I splash in the bath or hit a pan with a spoon she will copy me.) This gross motor mimicking is really important too, since it's a precursor to speech. Children with Ds may not be ready to make sounds or mimic verbally but by having this kind of gross motor "conversation" we have the opportunity to take turns and to repeat one another. It's like having a pre-verbal conversation and is a really important part of Cora's development.
But now I suddenly have a baby that seems to understand! I know that kids with Ds usually understand much before they can verbally express (or even express with signs). But I also know that we're working with a different kind of cognition, one that isn't likely to be as strong with auditory input, and one that may have difficulty with certain kinds of memory. The fact that she can remember "So Big!" without me showing her shows that she is understanding and retaining that comprehension.
Of course I don't know whether she understands the concept of big yet. But I do know that when she hears those words, she knows the appropriate physical response. And that is huge.
So I'm a little over the moon right now. Happy that she is progressing and that she can demonstrate that to me.
It's intense, this whole process. I always heard how extraordinary milestones are for the parents of children with Ds, simply because our children work so very hard to achieve them. And because we wait ever so patiently (or not so patiently) for these same milestones. So even the little ones seem huge. If you have a child with Ds I'm sure you can understand this. And if you don't, maybe it'll give you a little something to think about as you watch your own neurotypical kiddos develop and fly through milestones.
But today, I am proud of my little girl. My so big, little girl.