A Little Something Extra

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 6 of 31 for 21 - Educating Nathan

This is Nathan with his dear friend, Grace. Isn't she beautiful? And I think he's met his match in the "lion attack" game, don't you?

Lisa said: "I was wondering if you could share on how you've educated Nathan about DS and if you have any resources or tips on helping children understand DS."

I mentioned yesterday that this would be a short post. The answer to the question is, "We haven't." Nathan just turned four 10 days ago (oh, yeah... I need to post his birthday stuff!!!). When Micah was born, Nathan was not yet two and a half. There was no need to explain anything to him at that age. We talked to him about Micah's heart and his tummy being hurt. That was the year to explain sickness to Nathan, since Micah spent over 3 months of his first 10 months of life in the hospital.

It's probably time to talk to Nathan about it. But honestly, I've been waiting for him to ask. I figure it's only a matter of time before he realizes that Matthew is younger than Micah but Matthew is progressing faster physically (and eating table food, etc.). Nathan is a pretty curious little guy and does not have an introverted bone in his body, so if he wonders about something, he's going to ask. Is that bad? Anyone else out there with a 4yr old who knows about his/her sibling's diagnosis? How did you start talking about it?

Regarding resources... my first step is usually to visit Woodbine House publishers (specializing in books on disabilities). I've heard that the book "The Best Worst Brother" is good, along with "We'll Paint the Octopus Red." Another resource we plan to plug into in the future is that there are some organizations that focus on siblings of individuals with disabilities. But I think those start around age 6.

Running out of questions from readers. Anything else you wanted to know about Down syndrome but were afraid to ask?


Kristin said...

(just found your blog thru 31 for 21 challenge)
We have a 3 1/2 yr old daughter and just adopted a little guy with Ds - he's now 6 months old. We tell our daughter in simple terms things like yes, he will be able to ride bikes with you when he grows bigger, but it might take him longer than 'friend x''s little brother to learn how. I am amazed when we go to Ds events and there are so many kids on oxygen, etc, that she jumps right in and plays with them and never mentions any differences.

paige said...

i know that Micah was diagnosed with ds when he was still in utero - it's a dangerous place for a little baby with that diagnosis in this day & age... *what* - if anything - can we (as a society) do to change that? i guess what i'm asking is - how can we encourage parents to take the leap of faith required to choose life?

Kris said...

It is amazing how sibs of kids with special needs often don't see the special needs...or they do, but since most all kids have some special need or another, actually, it all sort of blends in without notice. At least it does in our busy household of eight kids :). We have been very upfront, honest and very positive when discussing Erin's Ds diagnosis. Especially positive, because they may not always have a positive response from the rest of society, we'd like to make sure they get it at home from their parents. We also speak frequently about how having an extra chromosome comes from God. He has a perfect plan. It is not a mistake. I'm quite certain that explaining Ds to children is very simple and rather easy. It is the reaction or comments from others, especially their peers, that can be tricky. That, I think, will be what the sibs may struggle with...not the actual diagnosis. God bless! Kris

Jonathan said...

Nathan looks so grown up here!

Anonymous said...

We have two terrific books that most parents of kids with Ds know about-so I am guessing you already know of them. The first is "We'll Paint the Octopus Red" and the sequel is called "The Best Worst Brother" by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen. They are great books for explaining Ds to older sibs. We got copies for our school library. Jayne(wyatt's mom)

datri said...

My older daughter Laurie was 2 1/2 when Kayla was born. I know we read her "We'll Paint The Octopus Red" (well, after I could finally get through the book without crying) and basically just said that because Kayla has Down syndrome it takes her longer to do things.

Interestingly enough, Laurie's current teacher (she's in 3rd grade now) grew up with a sibling with a disability. I asked Laurie's teacher if she thought Laurie felt that her sister was different from other "typical" sisters. Her teacher said probably not, she (the teacher) didn't realize that her brother's disability was any big deal until she was much much much older and it was just their "normal".