IEP goal: By June 2011, Clare will be able to ascend stairs with a reciprocal pattern without a rail and descend stairs with a reciprocal pattern with one rail with verbal cues.
There is a lot of hurrying that goes on in our house. Hurrying to get out the door to bring three kids to three different schools. Hurrying to pick children back up, make lunch, and get the little ones down for naps before it's time to get Jamie from school. Hurrying to make it to soccer practice on time (since Jamie's new coach is a little bit of a... drill sergeant). Hurrying to clean up, take baths, brush teeth, tuck everyone in. There are also a lot of stairs in our house, so a good portion of this hurrying is done going up and down the stairs. Even when we are not in a rush, the boys naturally fly past Clare on the stairs, and I often find myself doing the same. I will brush past Clare as she slowly makes her way down the garage staircase, gripping the handrail one foot down the second to join then onto the next step. I buckle Violet into her car seat, buckle Simon in, then I will go back to offer Clare a hand to hurry her descent down the stairs.
The other day, I was going down to the basement to switch some laundry from the washer to the dryer. Clare was ahead of me making her way down to the playroom. I went to pass her so I could get my chore done when I realized what I was doing. Was I in that much of a rush to get to the laundry that I could not wait for two minutes while Clare navigated the stairs? Did we always have to rush past Clare, leaving her behind by herself? Would she forever be last, everyone passing her by without a second thought?
I know - heavy thoughts on walking down the stairs. But it reminded me that there is value in taking our time. To Clare, she could slide down the stairs on her bottom, making it from top to bottom in about 20 seconds (and sounding like tap-dancing hippos doing so). But she is working so hard at home and at school to ascend and descend stairs by herself. Right now, she does so by holding the railing with one hand and carefully doing her one step with both feet at a time. Her next goal will be to do it reciprocally (as in one foot on one step, the opposite foot to the next step, you get the picture). Then working her way to going upstairs without holding a rail, and downstairs only holding the rail (right now, she is very unsure about going downstairs without holding a rail and someone's hand - she will do it, but she goes very cautiously). The ultimate goal someday is that Clare can go up and down stairs carrying her schoolbooks.
It still gives me some heartache when I think of all the things that the majority of our bodies do and learn naturally, but that Clare has to work so hard at learning. My heartache is for her that it just can't come easy for her. But just as there is value in taking our time doing something, there is also so much value in working hard to accomplish something. Even something as mundane as walking up and down the stairs. I know Clare is going to be left behind in some way or another time and time again. But I don't have to do that to her. I can walk with her down the stairs and hold her hand to make her descent easier for her. Or I can walk behind her, be patient, and have the chance to marvel at her determination in doing this on her own.