This post is not isolated to Down Syndrome at all. It is a blanket conversation about all Early Intervention programs.
Now. Let me start out by saying that I think Early Intervention therapies are stellar. I believe that they prevent a lot of frustration and more involved therapies in the future. I furthermore believe that in many cases, helping kids to cope with their unique challenges before they are crippling is imperative. This is especially the case with social, sensory, and communication challenges and particularly for kids on the spectrum.
I had Elise involved with every early intervention program I could from the time she was 1-2 months. You see, as a teacher, I read nothing but good things about the programs and was an enthusiastic believer in "The Einstein Syndrome". (The theory that if you assumed that your child was a genius, and treated them with high expectations and offered stimulation, they would rise to the expectations.) Since then, I have realized that positive expectations are indeed important, but there are many, many factors that combine to explain every child's personal development levels.
The first problem with Early Intervention is that many parents go into it believing that if they don't miss a therapy appointment, their child will be "fixed" and that all of their struggles with be eliminated if the parent is Doing All The Right Things. This is not a real formula. There are so very many factors that go into your child's development, that you cannot possibly guarantee anything based on regular therapy attendance. It's just ridiculous.
The second problem is that you can forget to play and allow memories to be made. If you think that regular therapy attendance is the official Key to your child's adult potential, then taking off a day for emotional well-being is simply not an option. And God forbid you take a summer off and play in the grass and the pool. And do you know how exhausted that makes you? Much less your child? Much less your child's siblings? Toys are just for playing sometimes, not always "neurological stimulation".
The third problem is that they are only made to mediate problems. They cannot "fix" everything. They cannot combat physiology. They cannot combat medical problems. They cannot entirely rewire the brain. They only promise to offer strategies to make things easier in the world not made for them.
The fourth problem, and the most important, as I see it, is that we are trying to jam a child into a mold. If you are paying attention only to the first and second issues I put out, then I think you may have missed the point of the therapies that your kid qualifies for. The therapies are tools to reduce distress and anxiety and give them the ability to communicate their feelings and ideas with the world. If you are trying to "fix" your child so that they can look, act, and sound like everybody else, then you will miss out on the best present your child can give the world. A fresh perspective. Dyslexics, kids on the wide spectrum, kids with ADHD, kids with Down Syndrome, gifted kids, kids with learning disabilities, kids with physical disabilities, they ALL have a unique view of the world....therapies are only the manner to give them freedom and a voice. That's all. Stop trying to squash their voice into a neat box, their view can offer more than you ever comprehended. Accept and enjoy it.
And if you have to take the summer off from therapies to reset and hear that voice?