Having a Child with Down Syndrome, Part XXXIV: Rituals

Copyright © 2012 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.

Day 20 of 31 for 21.
Nice Smile

One thing that we’ve found that is important to Alice and certainly with other kids is a sense of ritual.  Ritual is a set of things that we do in particular circumstances because they are familiar or they work or they are comforting.  Alice loves ritual.  There are certain things that she does which she wants to do in particular ways.  We’ll start something and she’ll say, “no, no, wait!” and spell out what she thinks should really be happening.

One thing that we’ve done that works well is saying grace at dinner.  I started with a simple grace, “Dear Lord, thank you for the food in front of us, the family around us, and the friends behind us.”  Both Alice and Stuart picked up on this and riff on it.  First they started adding in “and the cousins.” because of how much they like their cousins.  Then they started adding in very interesting things that give us a view into their minds.  Alice can be very quiet when she’s saying grace, but we can help that by reminding her to speak so that God can hear her.  I’ve heard her ask for more TV, ask her brother to be quiet, ask for mommy putting her to bed and so on.

By having a simple ritual, the kids get focused and calm down for dinner and give us a little picture of what’s going on in their heads.

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