10 Things I Learned About Down Syndrome
When my daughter was born with Down syndrome, I was numb. Oh, the things I had to learn, the joy I needed to discover. Now, I am happier, stronger, and more compassionate—thanks to the gift of an extra chromosome.
A baby is a baby
Down syndrome does not define a person. It simply refers to the physiological make-up of an individual’s cells. Babies with Down syndrome cry, smile, reach for toys, coo, roll over and need lots of love—just like any other baby.
It can happen to anyone
Down syndrome is not caused by any action of either parent before or during pregnancy. It is a naturally occurring chromosomal abnormality caused by an error during cell division. Down syndrome occurs in people of all races, ages and economic levels.
They look like you
Babies with Down syndrome possess genetic material from their parents’ cells. They inherit physical characteristics of their families just like every other baby. They look like their siblings and their mommies and daddies.
They have the same emotions
While some people stereotype babies with Down syndrome as being “happy all the time,” that’s not true. Our daughter gets her feelings hurt over the same issues that upset her sister, and she expresses them in the same way (oh, but it’s so cute!).
They are loved
Children with Down syndrome are accepted and loved by their families and friends. Most of the limiting perceptions about Down syndrome exist due to a lack of education and understanding. It is important to kindly raise awareness about Down syndrome in our society to create a more accepting environment.
Every child has special needs
In parenting, we learn that every child is different; they learn differently and achieve milestones at different paces. Every child has special needs. Regardless of chromosomal make-up, we celebrate our babies’ milestones and we support our children when they need extra help.
They are siblings
Children with Down syndrome have meaningful relationships with their siblings. When my daughter was born, I thought I had to change all my dreams for what my two girls would share. So far, their relationship is exactly what I had imagined before I learned my daughter had Down syndrome.
They are eager to learn
Just like any other child, children with Down syndrome are inquisitive and desire to learn about the world. They learn by being exposed to knowledge and experiencing their environment. Children with Down syndrome read, speak, sing, play T-ball, attend ballet class, make art and love to be with their friends.
Their future is bright
Children with Down syndrome have bright futures due to early intervention, awareness campaigns and the many efforts of thousands of people working to create a more accepting environment. Many individuals with Down syndrome go to college, live on their own and get married. We have big dreams for all our children.
Their ability is infinite
Raising a child with Down syndrome does come with extra challenges, but those challenges are outweighed by the joy our daughter has brought to our lives. Families of children with Down syndrome want people to recognize their child and their infinite abilities, not their extra chromosome.
Once you welcome a baby, you consequently become a member of the Club of Firsts. You will celebrate first coos, first spit up, and first steps like a crazed football fan cheering a touchdown. Here are some great firsts...view gallery
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