Last night my sister and I took the kids to the park to play. It was a great playground … fun stuff for the bigger kids and plenty to keep Harley busy! It was a big adventure for Harley because this is the first spring that he is walking! We walked from the rocking horses to this fun climber that had a bridge and slides! We then walked to these tire creations, then over to the big fort! It was fun. Lots to do, lots of space! He then ventured over by the bigger swings and back around. Harley does not talk yet. He says a couple of words (ball, bottle, book, bedtime (he must like the letter B) .. but over all he does not talk. If Harley wants to get your attention, or is just trying to tell you what he wants or running around having fun, he yells! Short little Ahh, Agg, Arrhh .. points, keeps going..Argghhh, Ughhh, sometimes yells when he wants to go left but I want to go right… He’s loud. I admit. I generally don’t notice but sometimes I do. I didn’t say I care or it bothers me, I just NOTICE it. Which leads to my story …
We walked by this set of swings that had 3 girls, probably around 16 years old … and Harley was walking and yelling …..Arrrrggg, Arhhh.. Waving his arms in excitement of it all! Harley had his hood up so you could not see his face. As we walked by, the one girl mimicked Harley. She yelled (grunted) like him. Her friends laughed. I was trying to keep him from the swings and as she did this, he looked over at her. She looked at him and she looked at me. I looked at her. Luckily I had my big sunglasses on to cover my eyes (shock) .. The girl sincerely, said Sorry! I just smiled and walked along. I didn’t hear any laughs or mocking as we walked away. My guess is she didn’t realize Harley had Down syndrome (couldn’t see his face with the hood) but probably after she saw, she realized.… I was thankful for that!
Harley doesn’t talk. This is his way of talking for now. He will talk. I am pretty damn sure of this .. but if he doesn’t .. It doesn’t matter. We love him just as he is!
So, we kept walking and he swung the swings. He climbed on the balance beam. He kept yelling. Arrggh.. Aggghhh! Some younger kids and their parents looked. Most smiled! Some just looked but honestly, whatever! We circled back to where we started and at this point, the boy was tired! The more tired he is, the more ARGGG, so, we said good night to the park and left … We had fun!
A few months back Hayden and I were sitting in the living room with Harley and I just casually said to Hayden “What do you think about Harley?”. And this was the response from his 5 year old brother who loves him and always says how cute he is (and is always very patient and nice to him). Hayden said “He’s cute .. but … he’s.. kind .. of………
CREEPY” (he was afraid to say this but he was being honest). I of course said WHY?
He said “cause he yells all the time”. I just responded that it is his way of talking and left it at that … but it made me think …
Harley is Harley … He has been part of my life, day after day, for 3 years now. I am used to him and his mannerisms! I honestly most of the time do not notice he is “different”. And when I say different, I don’t mean it derogatory … I am Harley’s BIGGEST fan .. but when placed amongst a group of kids, there are differences. In this case, he yells ARggg, ORRRR, GRRRRR! He plays like other kids, he has fun like other kids, he enjoys the park like other kids, he has feelings like other kids, he plays with toys like other kids, he “talks” like other kids .. but for now , its just not words.
My point … Especially for those of you who don’t have the pleasure of loving a child with Down syndrome each day … Don’t be afraid of a child that doesn’t “talk” … don’t stare .. Don’t make fun .. Don’t judge a child that “grunts” or “yells” .. It may SEEM creepy but its NOT! Really! It is NOT! It is their way of expressing themselves! One might assume the inability to talk (be it temporary or not) … means one is not smart or less of a person … NOT TRUE! Just know it’s their form of communication! I challenge you .. the next time you are in this situation … don’t stare. Smile! Say Hi! You just might make someone’s day.. Especially that child’s parent! We tend to shy away or distant ourselves with something unknown (I do understand this) however, they are children and really there is no need to be uneasy!
With that … I will close in the words of Harley “ARGGGHH, AHHHHH” Waiving my arms! ( Thanks for listening!!)
Ps. Here are some pictures to enjoy!