Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Imagination and Down Syndrome

I have heard parents share that they have been told that children with Down Syndrome are unable to imagine, as if it is general knowledge that children with Down Syndrome do not advance enough cognitively to gain that ability.  And I gotta say...  When I watch Charlie play this sometimes sneaks into my awareness... that someone should think him incapable of imagination...  preposterous!

Charlie is "the imaginative one" of our two boys old enough to play this way.  Here he is playing with "Mo" who he has since renamed "Me-Mo".  Charlie will play for hours inventing games with a variety of pals he has around.  His favorites these days are Buzz Lightyear, Mo, his dogs Little Jefe and Big Jefe, and Grover.  They are a group of friends up to high adventure daily in this house.

Mo catching a ride on Little Jefe.

I remember when Charlie first began to do "imaginative play".  It was a big milestone (especially given the 'rumors' it was impossible).  It is true that some children will never advance enough cognitively to engage in this type of play.  And that is okay.  Most children with Down Syndrome are only mildly to moderately cognitively delayed, though I think there is the perception it is normal for it to be 'worse' than that.  When asked I always tell people Charlie is just your run-of-the-mill kid with Down Syndrome.  Pretty average in his capabilities... and yet SO capable!  He imagines.  He creates.  He talks and jokes and understands and interacts.  He has friendships and he can learn and he is caring and generous and helpful.  He imagines!

After he caught me snapping photos of him imagining with Mo and Little Jefe, he wanted me to take a more formal portrait of him and Me-Mo.  He posed himself and Mo very carefully.  (If I had the software I would have photoshopped that laundry right out of this picture, but then that would not be an acurate portrail of our life!).

Taking Charlie's picture with Mo inspired Calvin to want to have his pic taken with his favorite toy... his race car track and race cars.  Calvin is also very imaginative, but not in the same way or to the same extent as Charlie.  First, Calvin pretends almost always using machinery as his characters, or in many cases if he is playing pretend he pretends he is repairing or operating machines.  And when he is not imagining Monster Truck Rallies or Building Sites or Care Repair Shop, he is accomplishing tasks, completing challenges, and or forming a band with his brothers.

(Incidentally both of my boys favorite toys happen to be made by me... which makes me feel pretty rad.  Yep.  That's right.)

And then there is this little boy.  Oh gosh.  Look at those eyes!  Miles favorite toy these days is whatever-brother-is-playing-with.   He will imagine soon enough.  I can hardly wait to find out what sort of games he will invent.  

There's a whole lot of imagination in this house, Down Syndrome or not.  I wish you could be here with me every day to see it.  Definitely one of the coolest parts of my day as a mom.


Jenny said...

Loved this!

ds.mama said...

Oh yes, you are right. Children with Down syndrome engage in pretend play and are quite imaginative :-)

Cindy said...

Good post. Now you've got me thinking about Beth. She's 27 so it's been a while since she did any imaginative play. I know she did though because I have pictures of her and a neighbor boy, she's about 7 and dressed up as the wife and he's 5 and wearing a tie. They were in our backyard cooking dinner. :)

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