Friday, October 14, 2011

Hawaii has charts - Did you know that?

When Ella first started her therapies, I would live for the quarterly assessments. The meetings where her therapists would pull out the Hawaii charts and measure Ella's progress against typical developmental milestones.  Her therapists are great - wait, her Physical Therapist is great -  she wouldn't dwell on the fact that Ella wasn't at a typical developmental milestone, she would just proclaim Ella is doing AMAZING and tell me how hard she works and what our next goals will be.

That wasn't enough for me, I wanted to see this chart and see where Ella was on it.  Her PT wasn't real keen on focusing on the chart, so she would usually make some excuse about being late to her next session and run away from me.  Little did she know that I am a Google master and with a little help from my friend Erin we had those Hawaii charts in front of us in no time.

Once I had the chart and plotted out where Ella was, I learned that at 12 months of age, she was acting more like a 6 month old.  She couldn't say momma or dada, she couldn't stand yet and she was no where near waving goodbye. This flow chart confirmed all the worrying I had been staying up late doing - Ella was behind.

I fretted over this flow chart and Ella's lack of refining her pincher grasp or batting a ball for a good week.  I carried it with me back and forth to work and when Mike wasn't looking I would pull it out to map her progress again, thinking maybe I missed something before.  I was just so sad that it was official - Ella wasn't like her peers - Hawaii said so.

After a week of this, Ella stood - with the couch as support - but she was able to bear weight on her legs and stand. Just like any other kid. I was so excited. I facebooked the pictures, I called everyone I knew, I clapped so loud Ella got scared and fell down.  But SHE COULD STAND.  At that moment I forgot all about the chart and when it should of happened and only cared that it DID happen. The next day I took my Hawaii chart out of its hiding spot and threw it away.  Screw Hawaii charts. My baby will do things when she wants and plus the chart doesn't account for stubborn.

Since that day, when people ask me where Ella is compared to other typical kids her age (and this seems to be a favorite question) I tell them I don't know. Because I don't.  Sure, I had 2 kids before her and should maybe remember when you are supposed to do things, but honestly, I don't remember. I mean my mind only has room for so much, plus  Ella is on her own timeline. The more I push her the more she resists and comparing her to these charts isn't going to get us to her next milestone faster, it is just going to cause my ulcer to flare up. I let her explore and learn in her own way. Maybe the chart says you cruise on furniture before you walk, but Ella didn't want to - does this get her to skip ahead on the chart or counted down for missing a milestone? It just doesn't matter because in the end she still walked...  Sure I supplement her play time with PT and OT goals and I use flashcards to help her learn objects and I sign with her but if you were to ask me what she should be doing right now, I don't spout off the list of 20 things a 20 month old can do and say she can't do them, I simply say "Ella does everything you see her doing and working on lots of other things".

Let me close with this: While I don't compare Ella to the developmental charts you can find on Babycenter or apparently in Hawaii, I still have a hard time when we are around other kids her age not looking at them and comparing.  I have a blog post for tomorrow about a situation that just happened when we were on vacation.  I have learned to put down the charts, but learning to turn a blind eye to other littles her age is harder. Much harder.

Here is a picture of Ella when she first stood:

And a picture of Ella now, standing and walking at the beach:

P.S. Please take a minute to visit the tab at the top of the blog that says Ella's Entourage and read about the Step up for Down syndrome walk and how we need your help to make her team the #1 fundraiser this year.  If she is #1, she gets to ride in a buggy at the parade as "grand marshall" of the DS Network float. I am already practicing her wave so we need your help to make sure she gets to use it.


  1. Ha, I know what you mean about not knowing where she is compared to other kids. I had four before Russell so you would think I would know where Russell falls on that chart...But the truth is I don't because he just seems so normal for Russell...But when we are face to face with another child Russell's age...Then I see it...I see the delays...And it does hurt.

    Looking forward to your post tomorrow cause its a topic I struggle with at times as well.

  2. Thanks for joining the blog hop!
    Ella is beautiful.
    You know what, my Eslea has met most of her developmental milestones for her age pretty much on time and yet, I would still find myself worrying! Oh she does all this...but not that must mean this...
    So what you are saying is so right. We have to let the charts go!! :)

  3. she looks so proud of herself in that picture when she first stood! Stopping over from the blog hop!

  4. Beautiful girl! I came from Austria via the blog hop:)

    Christina (Prince Vince)