Down syndrome from a father's perspective.

The special needs world can be overwhelming

The full-time job of parenting

Being a parent is certainly a full-time job.  Being a parent to a child with special needs is a lot like working two jobs when you need a little extra cash to make ends meet.  If you decide you don’t want to go to that second job you don’t pay the bills.  As a parent, if you decide you don’t want to put in the extra effort with your child he will not progress like he could. Yet, there are times when you just need to take a step back.  This was one of those weeks.

There is always something to think about

Treyton has been fairly healthy when compared to many kids his age and when compared to other kids with Down syndrome he would be considered extremely healthy.  I want to make it clear that we do not take for granted how healthy Treyton has been and as a result that is one less thing we need to spend much time thinking about.

On the other hand it seems like we are always talking about speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy or something along those lines.  How is he doing with his colors or shapes?  I have learned terms like “vestibular sense” (has to do with balance, movement, and the coordination of both sides of the body) and “sensory processing/integration” (how the brain handles the data it receives from the various senses).  Leigh Ann and I have had conversations about whether or not Treyton has any issues with being hyper- or hypo-sensitive.  We are also always evaluating how we play with Treyton.  Are we doing a good job of modeling skills he needs?  The list can go on.

Time to stop and smell the roses

Every once in a while you need to remind yourself to take a minute and look around.  Removing yourself from the hectic pace and immediate demands can be a great way to remind yourself what it is all about – it helps you gain perspective.

I decided to take a few minutes and think back to some of the funny things that Treyton has done over the past few weeks and months.  It did not take long for me to come up with a list of “Favorite Treyton Moments.”

One of the things that made me laugh was thinking about the time when I changed the faucet on our kitchen sink.  I am a big guy so for me to get my body wedged into that small space is a bit of an ordeal.  Treyton was watching me bring my tools in and start to work under the sink; that type of activity is like a “Treyton Magnent.”  As I worked I could feel him moving around where I was working and then there he was!  He wanted to get a better perspective of what I was doing so he climbed right on top of me and the next thing I knew Treyton was looking me straight in the eyes with a great big smile on his face.  What a crazy little kid!

Another thing that makes me laugh is thinking about riding on the lawn mower with Treyton, he loves to ride on the mower.  As we ride he is always talking – not with words but with his signs.  You always know what he is looking at because he is telling you.  You know when he sees a bird, a ball in the yard, or maybe he will spot a dog.  For a kid that can’t talk, Treyton never shuts up!

A video is better than a picture which happens to be better than a thousand words

I could go on with stories about the different things that Treyton does that either make me laugh or amaze me, he is constantly adding to the list.  But I would rather let him do the talking.  If you have not already visited Treyton’s Posse on You Tube you should do that.  I try to keep thatuhe channel updated with short clips showing glimpses of what life is like with Treyton.  I know you will find something there that makes you smile.  Just the other day I shot a video of Treyton using some pots and wooden spoons to play the drums.  He is a lot of fun to watch.  Take a look at Treyton is this short video below.  The little man surprised me with his ability to handle a soccer ball.  What a funny little guy, he is a natural!

Treyton’s Soccer Skills Video

One last example of Treyton’s magic

The other day Treyton asked me for some chips so I gave him a couple which he quickly ate and then asked me for more.  I decided to give him a bowl of chips the next time which he gladly accepted and sat next to me on the floor while he enjoyed his snack.  The thing that I couldn’t believe was when he finished his chips he quietly got up, walked into the kitchen then put his bowl in the sink.  That may not sound like much to you but in my house that his huge!  I was so shocked that I sent Leigh Ann a text saying that one of our kids just put their bowl in the sink after a snack and she would never guess which of the four kids it was!

Treyton has continued to lead our house in the most dishes placed in the sink.  Leigh Ann and I have been fairly confused by our son’s willingness to take care of his own dishes.  We really did not know how he picked up on that skill until the other day when Leigh Ann visited Treyton’s school.  Each day they have a snack.  The key here is that they don’t use paper products, they use dishes that need to be washed.  The reason they don’t use paper plates is so the kids learn things like placing their plates in the sink.  I really don’t know if you, the reader, can appreciate what this means to me as a parent but I really do see it as one more example of the potential a kid with Down syndrome has.  They are not to be underestimated.

Rob Arnold has been married to his high school sweetheart for almost 19 years. Together they have three daughters and one son. He earned his bachelor's degree in General Business from Grand Valley State University as well as an MBA in Strategic Management from Davenport University. He enjoys reading, hunting, scuba diving, and spending time with his family.