Faith is now in high school! I actually can’t believe I just typed those words. How is it that my baby is fifteen years old already?!
I’ve always been a bit of a worrier, but lately, I’m not sure what had me more concerned. The fact that we were moving again and she’d start a brand new school or the fact that she was going to be in a huge high school with several hundred typical kids. Although she is in a self-contained special education class, she walks the halls with the general population to go to some of her classes.
I’m proud to report, Faith not only transitioned like a champ but is thriving socially, academically, and absolutely LOVES school!
As a mother, worry has often been all-consuming for me ever since my firstborn, 19 years ago. However, as a mother of a child with Down Syndrome, there are even more issues to be concerned with. If you have read my previous posts, then you know Faith is non-verbal. That alone causes much of my concern because she cannot speak up for herself or explain if something or someone upset her. However, she does somehow find a way to sass me as a typical teenage girl would when protesting her mother’s requests. But when she is not with me, I worry about how she can communicate when something is wrong or how she can let other people know her wants and needs. I worry about what’s wrong when she’s upset and it breaks my heart that she cannot tell me why. She does know sign language. I taught her the basics as I taught myself when she was very young. Her school also provides an iPad speech device, which is amazing and does help in most situations. In any case, I still worry, as most moms do.
People with Down Syndrome are, in many ways, just like the rest of us. Typical teenagers want their space, freedom, friends, and options. They want to choose what, when, and how to do things. Faith is no different than other teens in that regard. I’m torn between guilt and pride when she goes in her bedroom and closes the door to binge-watch her favorite tv shows. I say guilt because for so many years I have played games, worked on puzzles, helped her with art projects, drilled new vocabulary, and practiced her Math skills, that when I’m not ‘teaching her’ I feel like I’m not doing my job as a mom. Although, it does make me happy that she is becoming her own person and doing things the way she wants to do them. Recently, I started to give her more choices, from what to wear, what activity to do, how she wears her hair, and which foods to eat. She clearly is happier having options and feels she is in control of her own day-to-day.
In school, her teacher has emailed several times and discussed in parent-teacher conferences just how well Faith is adjusting to the high school environment and progressing socially and academically. She is not quite as high functioning as some of the other kids in her class, which is a good thing. I believe it’s good because she sees what her classmates are accomplishing and it makes her strive to do the same. I love that the bar is set high and am so proud that she is working hard to improve.
My girl has truly come a long way! She has overcome so many challenges in her 15 years. She’s a fighter. She’s determined and strong-willed. And I am SO VERY PROUD.
Want to share your story? Drop your comments below. It’s my hope that our stories resonate with you and you are touched and encouraged. Remember, to always “Have a Little Faith”!