Elizabeth is 10 months old. She is Matthew's DS - Dear Sister. She understands several words and names like 'cat', 'shake', 'Daddy', 'Mommy', 'Matthew'. She says "uh oh" when she drops something from her food tray, and says "na-na-na" while shaking her head "no" when I say no to something.
She loves to snuggle with her stuffed animals. She lays on them and goes "aaaahh." She can already blow into the the toy trumpet, which Matthew was only able to do when he was well over a year old.
Like Matthew, she's very observant. She has learned to say and wave hi very easily. The learning differences are apparent between the two. She processes her environment and any stimuli faster and reacts faster than Matthew does. It might be a function of how neural circuits in the brain are not as strong in people with Down syndrome, according to scientific findings by the Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation (DSRTF), hence affecting the learning process. But even if Matthew learns slower and differently, the development paths are the same.
She walks with a sturdy push toy. She has taken a couple careful steps forward independently.
She is very motivated to be mobile to keep up with her big brother. With her faster-than-we've-been-used-to rate of development, we think that this will help Matthew's development too further down the road, particularly with language and social skills. Having another little kid to imitate and interact with is probably more motivating and fun in many ways than just having us boring, old parents, right?
Monkey see, monkey do. If Matthew is pushing his ride-on toy down the hallway, she wants to push one too. When Matthew plays with blocks, she plays with blocks too. When he pretends to cook, she is right there with him pretending to eat the plastic food. Sometimes Matthew will, without any prompting from me, plunk a box of blocks or a basket of play food between himself and Elizabeth. It's his way of telling her "Let's play!" which Bill and I are very happy about because he is initiating interactive play, not just parallel play.
Sharing is an issue every now and then. Modeling how to share helps Matthew understand what to do. Being 3, he shares toys only when he wants to.
They enjoy wagon rides together. What's not to love about wagon rides? As a friend commented on one of my facebook photos, "Warm sun, cool shades and riding with the top down."
Are we glad that Matthew has a sibling? Absolutely! Do we wish that the birth order was reversed with him as the younger sibling with Down syndrome? Sometimes I do just because I think having an older sibling without Down syndrome would bring a different dynamic to the table. But I like the birth order as it is anyway. It is how it is.
It's wonderful to see that they enjoy each other's company. We hope this bond only gets stronger.