Thursday, May 14, 2009

Have Walker, Will Travel

walker timeMatthew has been all about the walker the past two weeks. He still cannot walk independently so the walker is great for helping him get around the house in addition to crawling on his hands and knees. I look at him pushing the walker around the kitchen floor, almost running down our cat (get out of the way Yuri!), and I feel so proud of him. It may be no big deal for some, but it's an outstanding achievement in my book.

I remember it was in December (he was 14 months old) when we began practising walking with him. It was very trying at times especially when he locked his knees and not move his legs to take steps. It was the same story when I held his hands or supported him under his arms to take steps. I had to move them forward for him while he held on to me or the walker in an effort to show him. I think he had a hard time with it because he had not developed the left-right-left pattern yet, even for crawling. His commando crawl was one-sided, using his right arm to drag himself forward and the left leg to push off. Also, he needed more strength and stability in his leg and hip muscles. He began to take baby steps in January, when he was almost 16 months old. Realizing he could go forward, he took more steps at a time each day we practised. We went from moving 2 feet to 12 feet without falling. He was fast too! We steered for him and caught him if he lost his balance. He learned to steer in the past two weeks.



"It just happened one day," some moms can easily recount. Some moms, on the other hand, need to give their kids more guidance. In our case, the lesson for learning to walk (i.e. push a walker) has to be broken down into steps (no pun intended). His physical therapist (PT) says that cruising sideways along our coffee table helped him develop the strength and stability in his hips which are needed to move forward. Stepping sideways also taught Matthew to shift his weight from one leg to the other and maintain his balance, which is key when stepping forward. Cruising from one piece of furniture to another, placed side by side, helped him develop balance. Cruising from the couch to the coffee table required more balance since he had to twist his trunk and let go with one hand in order to reach out for the coffee table.

up against the sliding glass doorup against the fridgeOther than cruising, Matthew had to master other skills before he could move forward more reliably. Pulling up against the sliding glass door or fridge or any similar surface helped reduce the amount of arm support needed to get up to a standing position. Practising standing unsupported, even for just a few seconds at a time, allowed Matthew to gain confidence on his own two feet. standing unassisted for 5 secondsWalking with two hand support is another important skill. He is very motivated to kick the ball around while Bill or I hold his hands. walking with two hand supportHis PT mentioned that a product available at Target called Walking Wings Learning to Walk Assistant. It's a harness-type contraption and may be a good way to teach Matthew to walk without holding on to our hands. There are other similar products out there but his PT just happened to mention this particular one. We have not bought it for Matthew though, and I don't know if we will.

Until now, I had been clueless about these body mechanics. Granted, he is my first child so I have no prior experience and knowledge on teaching a baby to walk. His PT and the book "Gross Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome" by Patricia C. Winders have been a great help. I've also learned to read cues from Matthew in order to tell if he was willing and ready to learn more. It's been an educational and incredible journey so far. Bill and I are happy to be travelling with Matthew. And when he gets to walk independently, we'll be there to cheer him on!

12 comments:

Beverly said...

He is doing such a great job! So are you! Yes, we learn a lot of stuff with our kids that other parents dont even think about.

Monica @ Monkey Musings said...

He's doing great! What a cutie. It looks like he's about 2 months older than my guy (18 months today) and we're just starting to slowly cruise a step or two sideways. Hopefully we'll be right behind your little guy this summer. How fun.

Kim Ayres said...

I remember being told that children with DS learn to walk on their own anywhere between 18 months and 4 years old. Meg was 2 when she took her first independent steps.

But then, if you look at any group of people, can you guess who were the early or late walkers? Once we get there, it makes no difference :)

Ruby's Mom said...

Great post!Way to go Matthew!!!

Sharon said...

Yay for Matthew! It sounds like he's doing great!!!

James said...

This is a great post and a terrific blog! Nate just started crawling so I'm still reveling in that glory, but I know we've got to keep moving forward (literally & figuratively)

Monica said...

I think this is a huge deal!!! Yaaahooo Matthew!!!! Way to go!!

How can I watch your videos, they say private when I try to play them??? :)

Ria said...

oh my, I didn't realize you couldn't view the video. I made some changes and I hope that fixed it. Happy viewing!

heidi marie said...

hello ria,

i'm so glad you stumbled across my blog via kelly. i have been spending a little bit of free time "briefing" myself on all of you guys in a little bit of free time here ;) you have a beautiful little boy. matthew is doing amazing!! i also read your mother-in-law's story of your son. it's amazing, doesn't matter how many times i read stories of parents finding out there child has ds for the first time...i always cry. i suppose it's because those feelings are so strong and change your life forever. i'm looking forward to getting to know all of you better and will definately be adding you on my blog list. i'm not sure what kelly filled you in on, but i am from wash.,mo and my husband from union. although, i know that i don't know your husband he looks very familiar. small town i suppose. i wanted to add that i love your saying about matthew being the exclamation point in your family's diversity- very cute! well i'll stop here for now, but talk to you soon.

mapstew said...

Hey guys, came here via 'the bearded one'.
What a happy and handsome child you have.
We have 3 daughters, (2 teenagers and a 10yr old), and miss them being Matthew's age. They grow up so quickly!

Erica said...

Really great post I am looking forward to following you hope your will check out my blogs.

http://ehaggins.blogspot.com
http://myfirst5k-erica.blogspot.com

Jen said...

Hi! I found you through Beverly's blog. My little guy with DS is 9 months old so I am so happy to have found your blog. It's helping me to gain a bit of insight as to what is next. Our current goal is for Little J to be sitting alone by his first birthday. He's on his way. Matthew is just darling and very inspiring I might add.