Celebrating Maia's extra chromosome
Maia started 4 year old mainstream kindy this year.
This is probably the first time she has been in a place with children her own age. I volunteered to be the parent helper after she had been attending for a few weeks. I was excited to spy on her and watch how see was negotiating the kindy environment.
When I arrived several of the children came up to me and asked “Who are you?”, “What’s your name?” and “Why are you here?” I told them I was Maia’s mummy and I was the helper today. I asked them if they knew who Maia was? Some said yes, others said no and one boy pointed to Maia and said “She is that baby over there”.
My excitement turned to sadness. I watched Maia happily exploring, but noticed she was playing by herself and she wasn’t really being included by the other children.
I also realised that it would probably be a long time before she had a conversation with someone and innocently asked them “Who are you?”, “What’s your name?” and “Why are you here?” Maia didn’t act like the other typical 4 year olds in her kindy group.
Later, we moved indoors and I was sitting at a craft table with some children who were cutting and gluing pieces of paper. I was surprised a lot of the children didn’t know how to hold a pair of scissors. I started to feel happy. I felt proud that at least Maia knew how to correctly place her fingers in a pair of scissors, even though she needed help to cut.
I started to look for other ways that Maia was ‘better’ than the other children. But I quickly realised that while it is natural for parents to compare their children to others, this is a slippery slope, particularly when you have a child with a developmental delay. These sorts of comparisons stop you from seeing the improvements they are making, especially when the progress may be small. But by looking out for the things they can do, rather than what they can’t do, you can find lots of reasons to celebrate. It shouldn’t matter if your child is better, faster or smarter than someone else, what matters is they are trying their best.
The 21st of March is World Down Syndrome Day. For our family, it is a chance to celebrate Maia and everything that makes her unique, including her extra chromosome. It reminds us to celebrate her successes and to not compare her to others and that with our help she can reach her full potential.
It can also raise awareness and remind others to be inclusive of those who are different. As she interacts with more children at kindy and their families, we hope that they can learn that by including her they can also grow to love her just as much as we do.
Read the rest of Maia's adventures by clicking on the images below:
If you have a child that has just been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, the peak body in Australia is Down Syndrome Australia. If you need assistance in finding the right supports call us on 1800 670 014 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a beautiful video of how 50 mums and 50 kids
celebrate their one connection of having an extra chromosome.