How I Feel About My Child with Down Syndrome Starting Nursery

How I Feel About My Child with Down Syndrome Starting Nursery


I can’t believe I’ve barely blogged and almost a year has passed, I still don’t feel entirely ready to share my initial moments as reliving them is still so painful but as time is passing, I can feel myself becoming more open to it – how has a year passed? How is it during a time of sheer and utter grief time has actually flown by? To be honest, as I’ve travelled through some of my darkest days, its felt slow. But when I look around me – compare pictures of Arjun from then to now (thanks Facebook), time has flown at lightening speed, he’s grown in to a proper little boy now and I feel like I’ve missed so much by being so distracted with my own thoughts.

Today was a good day.

As Saajan’s first birthday draws closer, I still can’t believe it’s almost time for him to start nursery.

I’ve felt a little judged at times about sending Saajan to nursery when he can’t even crawl let alone walk. Comments can sometimes feel like judgement. Judgement can sometimes make you feel like an incapable mother/father but I’ve always stood firm, that health permitting, I want Saajan to have exactly the same opportunities as Arjun had – nursery included. My gut feeling was confirmed when Saajan attended baby crèche while Preetam and I attended sign-a-long – Saajan absolutely loved it! Why wouldn’t it be good for him to be around other peers? Why wouldn’t it be good for him to get to be in a setting which promotes independence? Why wouldn’t it be good for him to be in a different environment which may encourage his development further? Why wouldn’t it be good for him to be around fresh faced people sometimes? There is absolutely not a shadow of doubt in my mind that this will be brilliant for him. He’s a people person and I know he’s going to love it!

Today, he had his first settling in session at nursery. We decided to send him to the same nursery as Arjun as we’ve built a very strong relationship with both the staff and management there, we figured having both boys at the same school would be good for both of them as they’d get to see each other regularly and thirdly, they have a little girl with Down Syndrome there already so they have experience, fourthly they have a genuine love for Saajan. Before Saajan has even started, they have started setting things in place by discussing any additional courses and such that we felt the staff may need – all the staff were fast tracked on to a sign-a-long course so they’re able to encourage Saajan’s use of sign to help with his communication.

It’s so interesting that the emotions and feelings I am experiencing with him starting are the same as when Arjun started but for different reasons. With Arjun he was my first, it was all new to me, I was handing over my precious gift to a complete stranger that I had to trust from the get go. Now that I’m on to my second child, my fears with Arjun have been eradicated as I’ve built relationships with his nursery so the foundation has been laid and now it’s more about Saajan as a person and him getting the best out of the experience. It’s funny as with my typical child, I wasn’t too worried about his development – I mean I cared, but I didn’t obsess. With Saajan it’s different. I guess it’s because I know he’ll have his voice a little later than Arjun did. He won’t necessarily be able to relay back to me. The level of trust and relationship building is to a whole nother level – a level that has scared me.

Having a child with special needs is definitely daunting where it comes to trusting others – all that needs to be considered can be overwhelming but more than anything, ensuring the right people to deal with the circumstances and your precious child is the scariest part for me.

 

They’re allowing Saajan to pick his own key worker – throughout his settling in sessions the girls will see who he bonds with the most. I trust my baby to guide me in the right direction but I’m comfortable that all the girls in the room are lovely. I just need someone that has an extra love for their job and perhaps an interest in children with special needs so that it’s a mutually benefitting relationship.

 

In addition to it being Saajan’s first settling in session, we also had a round the table meeting to discuss Saajan’s development. There we had the input of his speech and language and physio therapist, his key worker was present, the nursery SENCO (who happens to be Arjun’s lovely key worker), the baby room staff and the nursery manager.

 

I walked in to the meeting feeling a little apprehensive – I never imagined I’d be doing this in my life. I never had to do any of this with Arjun. Thankfully, Arjun took my hand and held it (metaphorically) – he woke up this morning and I asked him if he’d like to go to nursery, to which he replied “No!” when I told him it was Saajan’s first day, he bounced up, rushed to brush his teeth and got ready. He lay in Saajan’s cot next to him gently telling him he’s starting at the same nursery as him and that he’s really excited. He insisted on wearing the same hoody as Saajan too! Whatever has been thrown our way in life, God has never ever let me down in ensuring we have the right people around us to support us – Arjun’s love, care and patience always saves me at my weakest despite being a little rascal at the best of times!

 

 

On the car journey, Arjun lovingly held Saajan’s hand and exitedly told him all about nursery – I found it a tad amusing given he usually screams the house down to not go himself haha. Once we arrived at nursery, Arjun eagerly darted towards the baby room with us following behind him. Saajan happily went to the nursery staff who were just as happy to receive him and Arjun bushy tail put Saajan’s bag away on to his own coat peg – his caring and protective nature is so heart melty. We asked Arjun if he’d like to stay with Saajan in the baby room but he said it was too noisy and would prefer to go to preschool – he was satisfied that Saajan was ok.

 

Our meetings lasted just over three hours (Saajan’s first settling in period was only meant to last an hour but he did so well!) – We went through everything and honestly I feel so much better – like a weight has been lifted off of me. We discussed his medical history, his aspiration concerns, his feeding, our hopes and aspirations for Saajan, his physio plan and his speech and language plan to name a few!
With the added complexities of Saajan’s aspiration, I felt so nervous and conscious that I’d be overwhelming the staff but their constant reassurance and support has been incredible. Even before Saajan started, Arjun’s nursery staff have provided the family with support which has been overwhelming. In my early days, I’d often drop Arjun, be asked how I am and end up in tears and many of the girls were at the end of their shift but would offer their comfort and always remind me that they are there. None of them really had to take an interest but every single one that we’ve interacted with has gone over and beyond to ensure Arjun has been ok, and by embarking on our journey with Saajan with us from the get go to get to know him in preparation for him joining them.
It was really warming to hear how eager all the girls in the room were to meet Saajan in person and I know he won’t disappoint!
I’m so excited for Saajan to embark on this new journey – yeh it’s so crazy how this whole year has flown by, and yeh I’m a little nervous for him to start but more than anything I’m excited for him and for us – I’m becoming the special needs mum that I thought I’d never be! I’m looking forward to strengthening and expanding our support network through nursery and also getting a little relief by having the help with things like physio and speech and language therapy which will also be continued at nursery.
He had a brilliant first session – enjoyed playing and flashing his cheeky little grin. We only had a few tears during lunch as he was super sleepy. He had a mammoth three hour nap when we got home!

For those of you that have been following us for a while know that sometimes Arjun isn’t overly excited about going to nursery (he’s absolutely fine after thirty seconds of us dropping him!), but today they told me he was so excited even without his best friend Jovan there. He was bursting with so much pride that Saajan was also at nursery. He did him a picture which he’d folded up and put in his pocket to give to him when we got home. He also didn’t want him to sleep when we got home so that they could “talk” about Saajan’s first day lol.

All in all, I’m a much calmer, more relaxed and confident mama today. I’m incredibly proud of my boys and I’m so so thankful and grateful to the staff at the boys nursery for doing everything in their power and more to ensure Preetam and I feel at ease! A huge thank you for absolutely everything!


3 Comments

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  1. 1
    Neelam

    You are an amazing Mum. Your strength and determination is so inspiring as your little boy starts his new journey. And how lucky are you all that he has such a kind, caring big brother. I am so glad I am able to follow your journey from here in America.

  2. 3
    Nicole

    This is so so beautiful to read and hear. I’m glad that we were able to support you today with some of your worries and concerns. We really do look forward to Looking after Sajan and embarking on this journey further with you xxx

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