Children with Down syndrome are seen in our schools, out in public, everywhere we go. As the age of parenting gets older, the risk of Down syndrome increases by quite a bit. Down syndrome is caused with trisomy of a gene – the 21st gene to be exact. These babies are often diagnosed through ultrasounds and various blood tests undergone while still pregnant. This will give you some time to take in the news, and time to learn about the disorder. But coping with the news and coping with a child can be two very different things.
First off – Children with Down syndrome are not ‘dumb’ or ‘disabled’. They are kind, caring, incredibly stubborn little individuals, who need love and attention just like any other human being. They can be absolute little love bugs, and often make their emotions well – known. In fact, many people say that society as a whole could take some pointers from children and adults with Down syndrome, as they are widely known for their expressiveness, kindness, and caring devotion to others.
Babies in particular do not pose as many differences. In attitude and need for love, attention, food – they are just like any other baby. They need cuddles, and they need to be reassured when upset. At this point, their needs are similar to others. They respond well to communication and touch. Their physical appearance, however, may be unique among their peers. So how do we cope with that portion?
Education about Down syndrome is getting progressively better, but taking some time to educate loved ones and teachers is an important step in coping with the disorder. Routine is going to be a fantastic coping skill to help children with Down’s establish a sense of independence and autonomy. It will also ensure that teachers, parents, and other family members are all on the same page about activities and disciplinary measures, etc. that may create behavioral outbursts if done incorrectly. Take some classes on Down’s, and join a group that includes other families coping with the disorder. You will not only find support there, but also kindness, resources, and important facts that are imperative for you and others to know when interacting with your child. Here’s a couple in particular.
- Don’t treat a disabled person like they are stupid – they can tell and it’s quite offensive.
- Encourage independence. This will help both you and friends, etc. have a happy, successful young adult.
- Take the time to explain things – this will help you and your little one know what is happening and how to proceed.
- Take some time to yourself – daycare and school are fantastic, safe places for kids with Down’s to go. As your child gets older, that stubborn part of the personality may drive you up a wall. So take a breath!
- And lastly – find a group of people who understand. No one can help you cope better than other parents who are in this wild, extremely rewarding journey with you!