Some of you with spectacular memories may remember a post way back in May when I mentioned that James’ pediatrician had a minor concern about his health at his first appointment with her. So I finally got him back to Bellevue to have some testing done (2.5 months later… ahem, bad mama moment). At the first appointment his doctor noted that his fontanel (soft spot) isn’t completely closed, and she said this can be in indication of a thyroid issue. This is one of many health concerns that is very common in children with Down syndrome. There have also been a few other indications that he may have a problem with his thyroid, such as sweating all the time and eating insane amounts of food without gaining any weight. Anyway, he had his blood drawn, and the results did come back a tad high on one of the thyroid tests. Since it was only 1 point high, the doctor said we won’t worry about it too much for now. I’ll take him back in 6 weeks (for real) to have his blood tested again and to have him weighed and measured to make sure he’s growing. They’re also going to test his antibodies, and I’ll save you a trip to Google since I already looked it up to find out that they’re doing this to see if his body is making antibodies against his own thyroid tissue. And on a side note, James did really well during the blood draw. He didn’t make a peep or move a muscle when they put the needle in. The phlebotomist said that she wished her kids were that quiet. Hmmm, maybe she needs some kids that don’t speak English…
We also visited the ophthalmologist to have his eyes checked out since kids with Down syndrome are prone to various issues with their eyes. This visit didn’t actually go very well. People often ask me how much James understands when we talk to him, and I think I was overestimating his comprehension. He seems to know what we want, but maybe he’s just very good at reading our hand signals and body language. When we were sitting in the chair to have his eyes checked, it became very clear that he had no idea what they were asking him to do. They wanted him to match the images they were showing on the wall to the paper in our hands, but he didn’t get it. He would copy me and the nurse when we did it, but he would never do it on his own. I think his wonderful ability to imitate has also been fooling me as to how much he really gets what I’m saying. They decided to just do the test they use for infants because that one didn’t rely him on following directions. They held up these big gray rectangular cards with a square on one end with black and white stripes. Your eyes automatically go to the square if you can see it, and the stripes get smaller and smaller as they flip through the cards. James eyes stopped recognizing the squares before mine did, but they said the test isn’t as accurate as the other. The doctor came in and did some tests, and she thinks he may have slight astigmatism (saving you another trip to Google… that means at least one of his eyes is not completely round). I’m sure that I looked ridiculous as I was holding James in my lap. You know how you open your mouth really wide when you’re feeding a baby? I was doing the same thing with my eyes behind James every time she told him to open his eyes. He couldn’t even see me, and I was sitting there with my eyes as wide as they’d go. She said there’s a good chance that he’ll need glasses since about 50% of kids with Down syndrome need glasses, but that’s okay because I think he’ll look adorable in glasses, don’t you? She gave us 2 copies of the images that they use to flash on the wall, so we’re going to practice at home so that he can go back in 6 months and try that test again. Since the issue doesn’t seem to be major, she’s not concerned about him going another 6 months without glasses.
The pediatrician also wants us to get him in to get his ears checked and a cardiac exam as well since, once again, kids with Down syndrome are prone to those medical issues. It’s actually estimated that 50-60% of kids with DS have some sort of hearing loss. After calling the audiology department, I’ve decided to wait on that test for a bit I think because they said he does need to be able to follow their directions, and it seems as though he’s not quite ready for that. As for the cardiac visit, the pediatrician didn’t hear anything wrong with his heart, but since 40-60% of kids with DS have heart defects, she just thought it would be a good idea to get him checked out.
As for his general well-being, James is still doing really well. The thing we’re working on now is his over-the-top possessiveness. Of course it’s not okay for the kids to take toys away from each other, but he often won’t even give the toys to me and Joel when we ask (and just for the record, we’re not taking the toys away just for fun. It’s usually because we’re going out or it’s bedtime or something like that). He cries so hard anytime we have to take something away from him. The tears just roll down his face like we’ve broken his little heart. It’s so sad, but of course he needs to learn that he needs to listen to us when we ask him to let go. Okay, I do occasionally take a toy away just because I’m about to lose my mind (he gravitates toward toys that play obnoxious tunes over and over and over again), but when that happens, I do replace it with another (silent) toy. Oh, and he has started saying “mommy” and “daddy.” That was pretty exciting for us since it’s 2 different syllables and seems like a pretty big step in his language development.
He also has a tendency to perform random acts of hugging, but I’m not sure if that’s something we need to work on or not. He will see someone, get really excited (like he knows them), and then run up and throw his arms around their legs in a big hug. The men he’s done that to have actually reacted much better than the women, and I find it a little surprising. The men usually say something like, “Oh, hi, buddy. Nice to see you too!”
And here are photo updates like I promised in my last post; apparently I have a very loose definition of “soon.” ;) I apologize that most of these are repeats for my fb friends.