October 27, 2013

"I NEED hairspray" part 1

When I left Alex on Sunday of parent’s weekend she was in tears. These were not tears of sadness, these were tears of unhappiness, verbalized as “Mom, I NEED hairspray”. For those few short hours on a beautiful fall day in Cincinnati Alex did not want hairspray, she wanted a mother who was more sensitive and less judgmental. Hairspray was how she communicated this.

By way of background, weight for people with down syndrome can be an issue. There are many reasons for this including lack of exercise, food as a “reward” system, difficulty recognizing “full” and genetics. My husband and I are of the shortish, slender variety so when Alex started to gain weight rapidly after puberty we looked at our environment. Alex did not exercise enough and was prone to sneaking food. 

At one point in her early teens when I cleaned Alex's room there were entire sets of dishes hidden under her bed. We are not a sedentary family and try to eat healthy (as I munch Halloween cookies on a Sunday morning). The pieces were in place but we needed to present health in the way Alex learns. We broke down meals, exercise and healthy choice in a way that made sense to her. When she left for college she had lost 20 pounds and felt very good about her size. More on that here.

When Alex was home she weighed herself weekly. She charted her weight and we celebrated each pound lost. We went shopping for new sizes and Alex was excited each time her clothing and shirt size went down. I felt so successful.

When Alex went to college I felt confident she would be able to stay on track. I understood that nutrition would be a part of her curriculum and it would be difficult for her to eat unhealthy foods. I did not even get her a scale.

On Alex’s move in date John called me to let me know there was a lot of candy and diet soda (both taboos for Alex) in the room. What I also learned was Alex has her own refrigerator and it is her choice how is it stocked. Since Alex has been away at college we have has many conversations about healthy food and Alex's response at the end of each conversation. "I know Mom, you do not need to remind me". 

A few weeks before I went to visit Alex at school she called to say she needed to buy new clothes because everything was too small. I imagined an even smaller Alex and had visions of a fun trip to Macy’s buying Alex all sorts of cute clothes. This did not happen. 

To be continued……….

If you have not liked our page, it is a good way to stay on top of the ups and downs of college for a person with a development/intellectual disability. I have no idea what is going to happen....but I will share the good and the bad. Please click on "The Ordinary Life of an Extraordinary Girl" now.

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