LuLu was a real sweetheart. She was a slightly built, seventeen-year-old girl with Down Syndrome, who had a most charming and delicate way of gesturing with her hands. Many times when I watched her, she almost looked like a ballerina posing. She mostly used sign language to communicate, but she did have a few simple words and commands to make her needs known.
Whenever we had to go somewhere in the school building, or even outside the building, if LuLu went with us, we always had to allow quite a bit of extra time to get where we were going. Most of the severely intellectually challenged kids we taught moved slowly, except for John (in my previous post), so we usually crept along....... but eventually got where we were headed.
LuLu made the treks even longer. Serious heart problems plagued her frail body, and she had amazingly developed an automatic compensation strategy. When her body figured out that her heart was not able to pump enough blood to her upper body, she instantly dropped to a squat. I would hear, "LuLu down now!" and know we were all going to stop in our tracks until she felt ready to proceed.
The school nurse explained that this response was most likely LuLu's body recognizing it did not have enough oxygen for her to keep going, and perhaps she even felt a little dizzy. By folding her body up in a squat, LuLu was able to better utilize the limited oxygen, reserving less of it for her lower body and more of it for her upper body and brain. Many times, several of her friends would squat next to her and pat her on the back, their way of showing their support and human compassion. A group of students squatting on the sidewalk always got a few puzzled looks from strangers, if we were on a hike over to Loring Park, but it never really bothered us.
It was usually less than five minutes and LuLu was upright and moving forward again. She always had a smile on her sweet, little pale face and never failed to add, "Thanks, all better." Depending on how far we were walking, she might have to squat one or two times, but she always knew when it was time. LuLu knew her limit. She was in touch with her body, or maybe LuLu's body was in touch with her.....either way, when it was time for a break...she took one. She would just drop to the floor. Bam. Squat. "LuLu down now."
LuLu was a genius, really. We should all be as wise or in tune with ourselves as LuLu was. What if we could automatically know when it was time to quit?
Too much work or stress? Take a break!
Got your energy back? Get busy again!
Too much fun? Had enough to drink? Stop!
Too much to eat? Go for a walk!
Angry...going to explode? Take a break. Say a prayer.
We all need something to aspire to, I suppose. I am going to keep trying to take a lesson from LuLu. I used to over-do a lot of the time. I'd just keep going and keep going, until I was completely exhausted. I'd like to think it's maturity and wisdom that has made me slow down, but it's probably just old age. Either way, "Terri down now."