I've been taking our beautiful surroundings for granted. I know this because Ella had a playdate today and we gave Ailish a tour of the farm. I had not walked through the secret garden in months.
It is a lovely farm and magical for children.
We walked through the garden, played in the willow house, explored the secret garden, and climbed fences. We pet horses, goats, pigs, baby cows, and a dog. We climbed bales of hay in the barn. We hand milked a cow and drank the milk.
We never stopped moving and looking and talking.
I was a little worried about Ella inviting her school friends here. You never know what a student might say or do. A child could be frightened by unusual behavior.
Ailish asked lots of questions about the students: Is he a grown up? Why doesn't he use words? Why is she so small? Why is he making that noise?
I answered every question, and then we happily moved right along to the next thing.
Helping two students feed the pigs some stale crackers --
Ella isn't receiving any direct therapy right now. Should she be? I keep asking myself.
For one thing, it wouldn't be easy to arrange because we aren't connected with a public school or even a local Down syndrome support group (yet). For another, I think we are covering the basics of PT, OT, speech in every day life and, to give credit where due, the Steiner school curriculum works a lot of therapeutic activities into the daily routine of the classroom.
In addition, we are living in a curative education environment -- this, in a nutshell, means that people with disabilities are encouraged and supported in pursuing their interests and reaching their full potential without being 'fixed' or expected to change. It's a rather complicated subject, for another time.
Personally, I'm trying to find a comfortable balance between providing specific therapy where helpful, and letting Ella just be. So, here's a sample of Ella's current 'theraplay' routine:
Climbing fences and trees, walking through fields, horseback riding in the near future. Not too worried about PT.
Fine motor: piano, lyre, recorder; dipping and twirling the honey stick for her bread at supper; working with clay from the pottery.
I'm pretty sure OT is covered.
Listening and conversing with others, some who speak another language/have an accent may or may not be helpful; singing, reading bedtime stories aloud, etc. I think we may need to pursue oral motor or speech therapy.
The feast was very nice. It was like having Thanksgiving dinner with your kooky vegetarian hippie relatives.
Here's Ella saying 'cheese' in front of the harvest table. Everything is from the garden:
And, here's Ella with Dermot. He's saying "Me too! Me too! Take my picture Daisy!"
I'm really happy to post this photo of Dermot tonight because he had a rough day. Just a few minutes after I took a photo of him swinging in the garden, he had a seizure. According to Minchul, it was a mild seizure but he still needed to sleep the rest of the afternoon. We're all so glad he was able to enjoy the feast!
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ Mark Twain