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Infant Stimulation

A Letter From Chris and Beverly Parrish - Spring 1995

    What do we do for infant stimulation? Hannah is 19 months old, the youngest of our four children, Benjamin-10, Luke -7, and Andrew-5. That pretty much says it all ---three older brothers is what Hannah gets for infant stimulation!

Before I share with you what happens in our house, let me preface this by giving you an idea of the goals we desire to see met in Hannah's life. Our goal for her has been basically the same as it is for our other children: to know and love the Lord, Jesus Christ, and to be the best Hannah she can be. It has never been to make her the "super kid" with Down syndrome any more than it has been our desire for our other children to be "super kids". Our feeling is that they are already super kids...with an incredible potential and worth beyond estimation. We, do, however, give her that extra measure of attention necessary to challenge her to grow and learn new skills.

When Hannah was just a newborn, our basic rule was to expose her to as much as possible. (Hannah has no compromising health problems to preclude our doing this.) She went with me into the kitchen to cook, into the bedroom to make the bed, into the schoolroom for school, even to the pool to swim. Obviously we were extremely careful not to expose her to situations when we felt her health would be compromised.

She had a constantly changing environment of sounds, smells, and sights to see. We put high contrast black and white pictures in her crib, along with a large unbreakable mirror, which we rotated around the crib to different positions and pictures. We put different toys in each room so she always had something interesting at which to look. We sing, we talk, talk, talk. Hannah has always received a great deal of touch. As a newborn, we held her skin to skin, and continue to cuddle and rock, massage with lotion after baths, massage when changing clothes or diapers and spend extra time when combing her hair, anything we feel encourages her awareness of herself and her surroundings.

As Hannah became more mobile, we put things just out of her reach to encourage her to find a way to get to them. A rolled up towel under her torso when she was on her tummy allowed her hands to be free to handle things, and pillows surrounding her when she could sit up helped to give her a different angle from which to view her world. When sitting on the floor with her we put her on her tummy across our legs to give her something over which to crawl and stretch. We carry her facing out, with her back to us, to strengthen and force her muscles to grow. After each diaper change, we pull her to a sitting position or have her stand each time.

All of this to say that rather than sit down for "infant stimulation" we try to incorporate it into our everyday activities. The boys are very much involved in this, which gives Hannah an extra advantage. Today Hannah is bright, happy, active and on her way to being the very best Hannah she can be.