Friday, November 15, 2013

Must. Stop. Comparing.

When we met Dasha in Ukraine 5 years ago when she was 5 1/2 years old, we were astonished with what she could do compared to Lily.  She was potty trained, she could run, she could jump, she could climb all over the playground equipment with ease, feed herself and dress herself.  Things Lily is still struggling (if not refusing) to do 5 years later.

Even with all she can do, I still find myself underestimating Dasha's abilities.  I lower the bar, help her instead of letting her try on her own and then find myself in constant amazement of what Dasha's learned to do anyway just by watching and modeling.  I'm mostly referring to Dasha's physical adeptness and her many life skills.  These things Lily struggles with mastering while Dasha masters fairly easily.  Now I should note that Dasha has a huge drive and motivation to learn these things while Princess Lily would rather be waited on hand and foot (we may have spoiled her a bit in the early years...).

We were at the park a few weeks ago and I knew Dasha was getting pretty good at swinging.  She often pretends to be helpless and begs to be pushed.  I think she (and Izzy) envy the attention Lily requires sometimes at the park.  I usually give her a couple of pushes, but then watch in awe as she takes off getting herself higher and higher.  It must be exhilarating to her to fly so high.  She has no fear and exudes joy while she's swinging away.

After watching Dasha swing like that, I realized I need to stop comparing and lumping them together just because they both have Down syndrome.  It's simply not fair to either of them. Lily may never swing like Dasha nor ever master some of the same life skills Dasha has perfected.  While Dasha may never read as well or speak as clearly as Lily is able to do. They are who they are and that's perfectly okay.  Down syndrome does not define them.

p.s.  If I'm being honest, I'm guilty with comparing Leo to Reagan and Kaelan constantly as well. Lately, I've been looking back on old therapy reports (some over 14 years old) to see when the twins both began to speak due to Leo's continued nonverbal state.  I think my hope is for Leo to progress at the same rate as the twins did all those years ago.  I'd prefer him to follow on the same developmental curve as they did, but I'm finding though by comparing him with his older brothers often just brings me more stress and anxiety.  Leo (4 1/2) appears to be nowhere close to acquiring speech while Reagan and Kaelan both were speaking at some level by the time they turned 4 years old.  So, the comparisons need to stop on the autism front as well. It's not productive in anyway nor good for my mental health and is again not fair to Leo.



Melissa said...

Question: Do you think the adversity Dasha faced in the first five years of her life shaped her character in such a way that caused her to be more successful in certain areas? In an orphanage environment only the strong survive. I've been wondering about that. Not that the deprivation these kids go through is ever good, just wondered how it affects them, long term.

Anonymous said...

Spoiled her a little? in the early years? If you say so. . . .