Monday, May 3, 2010

What more can I do?

Just a little cake photo for your viewing pleasure! Oh dear, he really does need a haircut doesn't he?

I work with Ralph's Sunday school and nursery class each week at church. Every week brings fresh new joy along with fresh new heartache. I think it must be one of the great mysteries of life how these two things often go hand in hand.

My friend's daughter, Shayla, is in the class. Ralph likes her quite a bit, though I'm not sure how much Shayla appreciates Ralph! He has started to say her name when he sees her. He says la-la!

It also does my heart good to watch him standing and singing the Sunday school songs with actions. OK, he doesn't sing but he does the actions, and quite well. Yesterday he did a better job of standing to sing and sitting to listen to the story.

I caught Ralph playing with the doll house later. He was doing great putting the mommy and daddy to bed and covering them up! He was really demonstating a good span of concentrated attention.

It's very hard to play cooperatively when you do not speak. Over the past year, I've seen these kids grow and mature and develop large vocabularies. Except for Ralph.

The other children either ignore him or get irritated when he tries to join in their play. I try to make certain that Ralph as well as the other children are taking turns. I'm working to teach the other children some signs so that they can communicate more effectively with him. I just don't know if I'm making a difference at all.

Yesterday one of the girls said to me, "he doesn't know anything!" Crunch! You could have heard my heart break. I thought I should be a little tougher by now. I mean, she's only three years old. I felt like telling her all the things that he does know, like a hundred signs, like how to make strangers smile and wave, and like how to disassemble hearing aids.

I feel like I'm not doing enough to make sure Ralph is included and has meaningful relationships and a great life. Every day is uncharted territory for us. Do I need to set up more playdates? Do I need to do a presentation to three year olds on Down Syndrome? Seriously! How do I know if I'm doing enough? How do I know if I'm doing enough of the correct things?