Natty's breakthrough moments: writing, sewing, staying dry

Does your child go through times when development stops still or even seems to regress? Are they then suddenly able to do several new skills all at once? We've just had one such Eureka moment with Natty.

She is a visual learner, as most children with Down's syndrome are, and she watches, waits, practises quietly and independently in her own time and almost seems to want to be sure of absolute success before she demonstrates any new trick. Perhaps she is afraid of getting egg on her face! Or maybe this is a trait other children and young people with Trisomy 21 share?

Natty has made us all extrememly proud this week with a trio of mighty achievements that have left our eyes watery, smiles on our faces and our hearts bursting with pride.

Often progress seems imperceptible to parents of children with developmental delay, so it's important to hone in on the little things, the tiny steps and celebrate them all. I find looking back over previous months or years really helps to see how far you have all come. After all, it's not how fast we finish the course, but how we enjoy the journey along the way that counts in life.

  • Natty's first piece of truly independent writing (above)

Our daughter loves writing, and enjoys tracing over letter shapes and copying words in a white board. We love the Kumon books for practising this in a fun way and you can find worksheets on Twinkl too. She will spend hours working away at this or writing her name,  but the other lazy Sunday afternoon I found this piece of paper. On it was a clearly decipherable word. Natty had written it all by herself and it wasn't her name.
"What does this say Natty?" I asked, trying to hide my desire to squeal.
"Cowboy." Was the matter of fact reply.


  • First sewing project 

For receiving 30 well done tickets at school Natty had won herself a little purse sewing kit which she had proudly accepted during school assembly. After tea one evening we sat down to start the project. I threaded the plastic needle and showed her how to sew the first few stitches. We made a little rhyme; ROUND THE BACK, THROUGH THE HOLE, AND PULL which we repeated as we went. She finished the first length of sewing by herself with me watching over her and reminding her of the steps. I showed her how to thread the beads onto the handle and then she stitched the second side all by herself while I tidied up. 

Great work Natty! And wonderful fine motor skills practice.

  • Dry at night
The third achievement this week is rather important to us as parents, but we've tried not to make too big an issue of it with Natty, although of course w ehave hugged and praised her. It's one of those subconscious developments that it might be best not to think too hard about. 

(Cue drum roll...) Natty has become dry by night.

She has been dry in the day since she started school (with the odd accident of course) but if we didn't lift her at around 10pm she wasn't able to make it through the night and didn't wake to make her way to the bathroom.

I understand that different hormones work at night and bladder strength plays an important part too, so we didn't press on, rather waited until Natty seemed physically ready.

Last week was half term and we spent a few nights in a hotel. The children were going to bed later than usual, at the same time as us, so we didn't think to wake and lift Natty. On our return I suddenly realised she'd been dry for 3 nights. We decided to carry on, just to see if it continued even when she was going to bed at the usual time. It did! It's early days, but I think she'd cracked it.

For continence advice and products for children, visit ERIC the childhood continence experts or read our Potty training tips.

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