Down to Earth: Raising Children with Down Syndrome

by | Sep 16, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Photo by Cliff  Booth

Parenting kids with Down syndrome can sometimes be a challenge, but it doesn’t hide the fact that there is also a unique wonder and joy that comes with it.

When one becomes a parent, there is a lifetime of surprises waiting for them at every twist and turn on the road. For some parents, this surprise may come in the form of having a child with Down syndrome. Now, parenting kids with Down syndrome might have been the first thing on anyone’s list, but though there are challenges, there are also wonders and experiences unique to being a parent of kid with Down syndrome.

When a child is conceived in the womb, it inherits the genetic information of both parents, taking 23 chromosomes from each for a total of 46 chromosomes. It is the chromosomes that determine how the body will look at the end, e.g., height, eye color, hair color, etc., and they hold the information necessary so the body can function. 

Down syndrome is the result of an extra 21st chromosome. If someone has an extra different chromosome then it results in a different diagnosis. If a child has Down syndrome, there are some physical challenges, developmental delays, and intellectual disabilities to the child in question.

Down Syndrome affects one in every 700 babies.

Raising Children with Down Syndrome

Raising any child can be both challenging and rewarding. However, when a child is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, that challenge is taken up a notch, and parents are faced with unique challenges that require more patience, more understanding, and more hard work than usual.

A major problem that parents will have to face is dealing with the medical necessities that a condition inevitably brings. Many children with Down Syndrome often have congenital heart defects that can require surgery. Some are born with hearing and vision problems.

Another challenge is education. Because the presence of an extra chromosome affects brain development, children with Down Syndrome require specialized education to better guide them toward their full potential.

In addition, there are also social pressures that come with having Down Syndrome–pressures that parents must learn how to teach their children to overcome. Children with Down Syndrome often face discrimination and exclusion because of their behavior and because most children (and some adults) are ignorant about the condition, thus experiencing bad childhoods

For parents raising a child with Down Syndrome, one of the best ways to overcome these myriad challenges is to seek support from other families with similar experiences. Luckily, in the age of the internet, there are plenty of forums, local organizations, and national advocacy groups that you can search for.

Becoming Down to Earth

Despite these many challenges, raising a child with Down Syndrome can be an incredibly rewarding and satisfying experience. While all children are loveable and deserve the world, children with Down Syndrome are well-known for their infectious smiles, kind and simple hearts, and very novel perspectives on the world around them. In households with kids with Down Syndrome, they are often the main sources of joy and positivity.

Their particular way of looking at the world teaches parents how to always see the good in people and find happiness and contentment in the small things. Their innate optimism often brightens even the darkest of days.

For a lot of parents, having a child with Down Syndrome is a chance to turn their life around and learn more about the world beyond their own stagnant views. These parents learn how to appreciate differences in others and overall appreciate life more (of course, this goes if you have any kind of child).

Yes, having a kid with Down Syndrome can be a challenge and a hassle, but the rewards they bring and the brightness they light up in your heart? They are priceless. 

Ultimately, having a child of whatever stripe changes your life in unexpected and treasured ways. You become a better person, one who is more patient and understanding of the world around you while also turning you into an advocate for a better world.

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