Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Second Is Walking First

I imagine that only a few parents can say that their second child walked before their first.  As with all parents of a disabled child, this was a distinct possibility for us.  And for Melanie and I that's exactly what has happened.  Whitney is the oldest, but due 1p36 Deletion Syndrome and its associated delays, Liam, our second child, is the first to take the first unaided steps.

Liam has been working at the finishing touches of walking for the last few weeks.  Letting go of the couch and balancing on his feet.  Then taking a hesitant step and falling.  And finally over the last couple days, taking off on journeys from one side of the room to the other.  It's very exciting.

At the same time unaided walking is difficult for Whitney.  I know how much she would love to walk independently as well.  But from having recently watched Liam master the technique there are still a few things left to accomplish:

First is balance.  Whitney still lacks the basic trunk and leg strength to balance on her own.  We are working to help her tone up, but most of us take for granted the amount of sheer strength it require to simply balance on our feet even before we start taking steps.

Another is learning to fall.  Liam seems to brush off a fall quite easily because he's figured out how to bend and fall carefully.  For Whitney, falls are still catastrophic because her reflexes just aren't quick enough to allow her to catch herself or land in a sitting position.  I don't know that you can really teach a person reflexes, but I think muscle tone will come to play here as well.  Maybe as she gets stronger, Whitney will be better able to catch herself as she falls.

Another important precursor is confidence.  Whit is so sweet and gentle, but sometimes she is very scared to take risks.  I imagine standing and stepping without anything to hold onto must be terrifying for someone as weak as she is.  I also wonder if she has faint memories of falling and breaking her arm just about two years ago.  Whatever the reason, Melanie and I are doing all we can to help Whitney to realize that, yes, she can do it if she wants to.  And we will be there to help.

So congratulations to Liam on his first steps and congratulations to Whitney as well for being such a fighter.  I know that she will be able to walk along with the rest of the family someday.  Melanie and I will do whatever it takes to make that happen.


Kajsa Farnsworth said...

These milestones are so exciting! It always catches me off guard to see little ones walking when they look so tiny.

I hope watching Liam walk will give Whitney some of that confidence back!

Angie said...

I have tears in my eyes. I'm so happy for little Liam and I'm so proud of Whitney's courage. She will walk on her own someday very soon. Our kids are so strong. We think of all of you often. And I read your blog faithfully as well as many of my dearest friends and family.

Nate said...

It's been wonderful seeing little Liam walk. Last night he was cruising all over the living room. And I know that it's helped Whit get some more motivation toward getting up on her feet. I know it won't be too long.

Thanks for always lending such supportive comments. It's great to know we're all in this adventure together!