As a parent of a child with , you play an important role in helping your child reach his or her full potential. Most families choose to raise their child, while some consider foster care or adoption. Support groups and organizations can assist you in making the best decision for your family.
Having a child with Down syndrome is full of challenges and accomplishments. Common frustrations and frequent highs and lows can all lead to exhaustion. Take good care of yourself so you have the energy to enjoy your child and attend to his or her needs. For more information, see the topic Caregiver Tips.
Developmental milestones and achieving basic skills
Be patient and encouraging with your young child as he or she learns to walk and master other developmental skills, such as turning over, sitting, standing, and talking. Your child will likely take more time than other children to reach these milestones. But his or her achievements are just as significant and exciting to watch.
Enroll your young child (infant through age 3) in an early-intervention program. These programs have staff who are trained to monitor and encourage your child's development. Talk with a doctor about programs available in your area.
Basic skills, such as learning to feed oneself and dress independently, often take longer for children with Down syndrome to accomplish. Set aside time each day to practice, and keep a positive attitude when you are helping your child learn these tasks.
Encourage your child to learn, socialize, and be physically active. For example, enroll your child in classes with other children of the same age. Think of ways you can stimulate your child's thinking skills without making tasks too difficult. But know that it is okay for your child to be challenged and sometimes fail.
Most children with Down syndrome can be included in a regular classroom. Your child may need an adapted curriculum and may sometimes attend special classes.
Be involved with your child's education. Children with disabilities, such as those related to Down syndrome, have a legal right to education. These laws also protect your rights as a parent to be fully informed about or to challenge educational decisions concerning your child.
Adolescent, teen, and adult concerns
As your child enters , proper grooming and hygiene becomes very important. Peer acceptance and self-esteem are affected by how well your preteen or teen addresses these issues.
Socially, teens and adults with Down syndrome have the same needs as everyone else. Most will want to date, socialize, and develop intimate relationships. You can help your child develop healthy relationships by teaching appropriate social skills and behavior. Encourage your child to take part in school and community activities. Providing opportunities to form healthy friendships is critical for your child's happiness and sense of belonging.
Also be aware of the social difficulties and vulnerabilities your child faces. Start early to prepare your child for healthy adult relationships and the possibility of an intimate relationship.
- Teach respect for his or her body and thebodies of others.
- Talk openly about your morals andbeliefs.
- Providesex education that is honest and presented in a way that your child canunderstand. Talk about the reproductive and intimate aspects ofsex.
- Discuss methods and safe-sex practices toprevent.
Start planning for your child's future living arrangements during his or her teen years. Many people with Down syndrome live independently as adults in group homes or apartments with support services. But most group homes and community centers require a basic level of self-sufficiency, such as being able to eat, dress, and bathe independently.
An adult with Down syndrome benefits from working outside the home and having social activities. Having an active lifestyle with continued learning makes anyone, including a person with Down syndrome, feel more vibrant and feel that his or her life is meaningful. Adult day care may be an option. Or the Special Olympics and other activities that emphasize exercise might be options. Encourage an adult's interests, such as in art or hobbies such as drawing.
Recognize that your teen or adult who has Down syndrome is at increased risk for , especially after a loss, such as death of a family member or a major upset in the normal routine. Often a change in behavior is the first sign of a problem. Seek for your teen or adult if you notice signs of depression.