Back in October, we were sitting around the table eating breakfast and Mason kept putting his hand under his chin, waving his fingers and babbling something to me. I tried desperately to figure out what he was saying, but to no avail.
Later that morning, after his physical therapy session, I asked his therapist what that sign meant.
“Oh, that’s how Mason says orange.”
“Yeah, it’s supposed to be like this (she signed the correct way), but he does an approximation as he does with all of his colors.”
And then she proceeded to point to different objects around the waiting room and Mason told me with sign language and word approximations what color everything was.
I was floored.
And so every day after that, many times a day, I would quiz him on his colors. And he would get them right. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black, and white.
This little boy continues to amaze me and it is absolutely delighting to watch him grow and learn.
In August, I shared in this post about how Mason was going to be starting preschool this fall. He’s eligible for special education services now, and it would certainly help to facilitate educational development and get him ready for a mainstream Kindergarten experience. We met with the school system, had our first IEP meeting, and then they told us what was available. Mason would be required to attend preschool five days a week, and they only had afternoon time slots open.
This would be on top of trying to fit in four days a week of therapy, and we knew this was too much for Mason. At just 3.5 years old, he still naps in the afternoons, and we weren’t ready for him to be gone everyday. So we opted out of preschool for this year.
In some ways this was a tough decision to make. Mason would LOVE school! And he would especially love being picked up everyday to ride the school bus. He was doing so well in therapy, though, and I knew we couldn’t keep up that therapy pace and have him in school.
Now, looking back, I can see we made a great decision.
Every day, Mason says at least one new word. I keep meaning to write them down so I can know exactly how many words he has now. Just the other night he told me a knock-knock joke, if that gives you any indication of how much he’s blabbering. Granted, not every word is exact, but his approximations are pretty close and he’s improving all the time.
He can pull zippers up and down. He’s learning to hold pens, crayons and chalk in the appropriate way. His eating skills have improved tremendously and he’s even braving into new food textures without as much hesitation.
Jumping is one of his favorite activities. So much so that it scares me a little bit the things he wants to jump from. We stop at every curb now and he jumps off. He can clear about 2 inch ‘hurdles’, which is another physical therapy goal. And he sometimes jumps all over the house, yelling, “Mama, Mama, jump, jump!”
Perhaps one of my favorite–and also least favorite things–is when Mason says, “No Mama!” Usually it’s in reference to me trying to dance along with him when the music plays, or when he doesn’t want me to play with his toys. He knows what he wants and he’s learning how to communicate that.
Down syndrome has opened up a whole new world for me.
Mason is a gift and the fact that he has Down syndrome is part of that gift.
Do I still struggle sometimes? Yes. There are days when I feel the challenges of having a child with special needs in big ways. I cry, wrestle with the Lord, and pray for Him to give me strength.
But more often are the days when I don’t even think about Down syndrome.
Mason is my son. He’s a 3.5 year old boy who loves trains, football, playing outside, jumping, pestering his sisters and holding his little brother.
He likes chocolate milk, peanut butter sandwiches, pretzels, pizza and ‘da-dip’ (ice cream).
When Bradley fixes his hair, he comes running to each one of us in the house, calls us by name, and points to his styled hairdo.
He loves going to church. When we pull into the parking lot he claps his hands and goes into the nursery without any hesitation. On the rare occasion that we bring him into the service, he sings along with the music, dancing through each one and clapping when they end.
He knows that we pray before meals and he loves to hear us sing about ‘Dee-dus’ (Jesus).
Mason has a big heart. He loves life. He loves people. And I really think, as much as he’s able, he loves God.
Watching this little boy grow and develop is a delight. I want him to communicate, have friendships with his peers, and keep up with other kids his age.
But more than all of those things I want him to love Jesus with all his heart.
Other posts about Mason’s progress in 2015:
//When Small Things become BIG//