A New Kind of Perfect: Parenting a Child With Down Syndrome
A Down syndrome diagnosis during pregnancy – or after birth – can be scary for everyone involved. Many parents feel unprepared, anxious or alone, but the truth is there are many great resources to help you. Getting the facts and knowing where to turn for support can make an overwhelming situation more manageable.
Do Your Research
There is a lot of online information about Down syndrome, but like many other medical issues, much of it is untrue or misleading. Having the right resources is extremely important, especially for new parents who are still dealing with the shock of a diagnosis. Rather than arbitrarily searching for information, turn to reliable sources like the National Down Syndrome Society. The organization offers a wide range of collateral, such as lists to bring to a doctor’s appointment and suggestions for group support in your area. While learning more about the medical side is certainly important, it’s also crucial for parents to understand how Down syndrome will impact their child in a social setting. Learning more about how your child will experience joy and live life similarly to a child without Down syndrome can help provide peace of mind and foster an optimistic outlook.
Look for Support Groups
Having people to turn to that understand the highs and lows of having a child with Down syndrome is extremely important for both parents’ mental and emotional health. If you’re simply in need of some encouragement, search online for testimonials from other parents who have shared their own stories to encourage others. You also can look for support groups in your area that give people a chance to bond and speak one-on-one, providing advice and a shoulder to lean on. Reach out to a social worker or use social media to find groups in your area.
Allow Your Relationship to Blossom
While it’s understandable to overthink your parenting strategies, the most important thing to remember is that your baby is a baby – and you should give your relationship with him or her the chance to grow and blossom. Although your child will have some specific needs down the road, you can still spend time finding things the two of you enjoy doing together. Communicate openly and frequently with your child in whatever way works best, whether that’s through speech therapy, sign language or something else altogether. The more you grow together and learn about one another, the stronger your bond will be.
Find a Doctor You Trust
Like any child, your little one will have mandatory doctors’ appointments. However, a Down syndrome diagnosis may require some additional care from therapists and specialists outside of your normal pediatrician. It’s important to find great doctors you – and your child – feel comfortable with. In time, you’ll develop a special relationship with these doctors. Feeling like you can trust them is the key to open communication, asking tough questions and getting specific advice. These days, many hospitals have pediatricians who specialize in Down syndrome so you can feel confident knowing that they have the most up-to-date information and knowledge necessary to best treat your child.
If your child has recently received a Down syndrome diagnosis, reach out to any of our pediatricians for help finding the support and answers you need.