All parents wish for a perfect child, but when children are born with conditions such as Down syndrome, it breaks their expectations and dents their belief system. It’s often challenging for parents to accept that their child has Down syndrome. In the United States, approximately one in every 700 babies is diagnosed with Down syndrome. In medical terms, Down syndrome is a genetic condition, wherein affected children have an extra copy of chromosome 21. The additional chromosome affects the mental and physical development of children. In most cases, children with Down syndrome will have distinctive physical features and below average intelligence. Some children may also face behavioral issues and may be diagnosed with other medical conditions such as respiratory problems, heart problems, hearing issues, etc.
Raising a child with Down syndrome can be a challenge, but it need not be considered a burden. The journey of parenting can still be joyful if parents make some small adjustments to provide for the specific needs of their child. Here are some effective tips and techniques that can be used to deal with a child suffering from Down syndrome.
Gather more information:
You will be able to provide the right support and care to your child when you have detailed information about Down syndrome. Take help from the hospital staff, talk to other parents, and do your own research. The more you learn about Down syndrome and related resources, the better equipped you will be to deal with the special needs of your child. By tracking the latest updates, you will know which medical procedures can benefit your child. You will know about social initiatives that are being conducted in your area to help special needs children. You will also come to know about educational institutions that have specialized programs for children with Down syndrome. All such information will give you more confidence to deal with the challenges of raising a child with Down syndrome.
Create a robust support system:
You will need a lot of help in raising a child with Down syndrome. The primary support will come from family members and your close friends, neighbors and relatives. The next line of support will be provided by other caregivers such as those at the hospital or school. Prior to taking help from other folks, you need to inform them about the specific needs of your child. They should know what to expect and should not get themselves into an awkward situation. Children with Down syndrome are likely to display behavioral anomalies, which some people may find unpleasant, especially if they are not informed earlier. Having the right support system will ensure the best possible care for your child. It will also free up time for you to focus on your individual needs and professional responsibilities.
Boost social interactions:
Create opportunities where your child can boost their social interactions. For example, you can invite other kids from the school or from the neighborhood to spend some time with your child. You can choose to invite kids who can understand the special needs of your child and are willing to help. Research studies have shown that social interactions are beneficial for children with Down syndrome. Such interactions boost learning and give the child the confidence to deal with the challenges of growing up. It would also help them get rid of the guilt that they have shortcomings or are inferior to other kids.
Ensure effective communications:
Children with Down syndrome are likely to face problems with their communications. They may have many things to say, but their mental and physical limitations may prevent them from expressing themselves. Inability to express thoughts and emotions can lead to anger and frustration, which can have negative consequences in the long-term. As a parent, you need to encourage your child to express their thoughts and ideas. If they are facing issues with words, you can use sign language or teach them to communicate using symbols and pictures. You can also use assistive communication apps and tools to effectively communicate with your child.
Let the child focus on their strengths:
Since children with Down syndrome experience a certain degree of learning disability, it may be difficult for them to excel in the standard educational system and pursue conventional career opportunities. The best option for children with Down syndrome is to let them do the things they like and see where it takes them eventually. Remember that this approach also applies to every kid, so don’t think that you are taking an unnecessary risk for your child with Down syndrome. As a parent, you need to focus on providing guidance and support. For example, you can inform them about the various possibilities that exist in relation to their special skills and strengths. For inspiration, you can read about successful people with Down syndrome such as Luke Zimmerman, Lauren Potter, Tommy Jessop, Chris Burke, Edward Barbanell, Angela Bachiller, Michael Johnson, etc.
Shield your child from bullying:
A normal child can be expected to fight for their rights, but children with Down syndrome do not have the physical and mental abilities to engage in a fair fight. Bullying is likely to scar their psyche and affect their confidence and self-esteem. If you notice any instance of bullying, you should take strong steps to ensure that it does not happen again. You need to talk to the parents of kids who may be bullying your child. You can ask them to restrain their kids from displaying abusive and hurtful behavior.
Parents can make the most of their unique experience of raising a child with Down syndrome if they take help from support groups and advancements made in medical science. Currently, there are various therapeutic and educational options that parents can use to raise their child with Down syndrome. Recent studies have shown that raising awareness about Down syndrome and new breakthroughs in medical science and education methodologies have significantly improved the coping abilities of parents. Growing social acceptance of Down syndrome has also helped parents and family members to avoid the stigma related to the condition. Earlier, Down syndrome may have been ridiculed, but today, it does not carry any negative connotations.