Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Saturday, December 01, 2012


It's hard to believe that one year ago we brought home a little boy who had no way to communicate, whether that be in Serbian or English.

Just as I did with Axel, I started signing with Asher immediately. He learned "more" ages ago, quickly followed by "eat". He could sign "bed" and "potty", "shoes" and "socks. Over the course of his first 9-10 months home he acquired a vocabulary of around 100 signs. Unfortunately he wouldn't initiate most of these signs, instead using them only when he heard us say the word or saw us signing them. "Asher, where's your shoes?" and he would sign "shoes", etc.

And then school started. Asher was able to see that kids TALK. And they ask for things and, more importantly, they get the things they ask for! He's spent the first three months of school watching  natural communication happen.

About a month ago it suddenly clicked for Asher. He started trying it out, this communication thing. One morning he went to the pantry, took out a box of cereal and brought it to me, signing "eat" as he placed it in my hands. "Oh are you hungry Asher? Lets go eat!" He laughed out loud, humored by the fact his tactic worked! WOW!!! A week or so later he started requesting drinks. He is now the most thirsty little boy I've ever met, asking for drinks about every 30 minutes, because he can and because we'll respond. He is learning he has some control over his environment.

I have always brought Asher to the bathroom about every 2 hours and he has stayed reliably clean and dry....except on the weekends. On the weekends we have no routine and there have been a lot of potty accidents! I always bring him first thing in the morning, again before he leaves for school, then school brings him every couple of hours. When he comes home he goes potty and every 2 hours until bed time.

About a week ago Asher came home from school, hung up his jacket, put is backpack away, then I got distracted. He came and stared at me. Just standing there, staring. Finally he started slowly walking backward down the hall. I recognize this; it's the walk he does when he doesn't want to be seen. As in , "You can't see me because I'm walking backward." He does it when you've told him "no" about something, or when he's not sure he's allowed to do something on his own. On this day he wasn't sure he was allowed to go to the bathroom on his own. I pretended not to see, watching him out of the corner of my eye. He walked backward all the way down the hall, into the bathroom and to the toilet. Finally I heard him flush the toilet (he flushes BEFORE he pees, silly boy!) then open the toilet and do his thing. I stood at the bathroom door, "Asher! What a big boy! YAY! You went potty by yourself!" I haven't brought him potty since then! But, because he's so small, he isn't able to get up on the toilet by himself in order to poop so at the usual pooping times I was bringing him. That was until Friday when I heard a commotion in the bathroom. I walked into to find him trying to get his potty seat up onto the toilet by himself. YAY!!!!!! He isn't quite able to do it himself, but he's at least attempting. Then yesterday we had another first. He came up to me out of the blue and signed "potty". I told him to go ahead and go, which he did. Five minutes later he came back, signing "potty" again. "Honey, you just went potty." Oh but wait....."Do you need your potty seat? Lets go get it!" Again he laughed as he realized he got his point across.

Tonight I was making a video of Axel reading his sight words. When we were done Asher sat in the same spot and signed his version of "Me!" He made it clear he wanted his turn! I turned on the camera and asked him to sign whatever words I could think of, (his vocabulary is now somewhere around 250-300 signs) but his attention span is short so we only did a few. Also, while he was sitting there next to the heat duct, the furnace kicked in. Anyone who knows Asher knows he is fascinated with airflow, motors and vibration. It was hard to keep his attention with the furnace running. LOL


Imogen said...

Asher, you are all kinds of awesome! Way to go!!

Leah, as always, your posts are so touching, and beautifully written.

The Sumulong 3 said...

He is doing SO great! You have done such a good job with him. I love hearing him trying to say some of the words (I noticed he was saying "mama" while signing it!) too.

DandG said...

Wow, this really touched me! I shared this post on my facebook.

Lisa (DanielsMommy) said...

All I can say is WOW....look at him go. He understood every word you were saying and look at all those signs. I have to say, I loved hearing his little voice at the end...all done...bye bye. Precious!!!