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Tag: Down Syndrome

Tips for Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome

With an occurrence rate of one out of every 691 live births, Down syndrome is a fairly common chromosomal condition, with 400,000 people currently living in the United States with it. Although the lives of parents and caregivers of children with Down syndrome warrant some extra visits to doctors and therapists, most people with Down syndrome can lead fulfilling and productive lives and are often included in standard classrooms across the country. October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and therefore, it is a great time to raise public awareness about and advocate for such individuals to be embraced by families and communities. Take a look at some tips for parents raising a child with Down syndrome.

1. Stay informed and organized

Down syndrome may come with increased risks of medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, pulmonary hypertension, hearing problems (due to fluid retention behind the eardrum), Alzheimer’s disease, leukemia, thyroid disorders and cognitive delays. Having the right pediatrician (who has the knowledge and experience with this special patient population) is valuable in helping you stay informed and prepared and keeping your child safe and healthy.

Parents and caregivers need to be extra vigilant in screening for these medical issues. Maintain a log to keep track of your child’s chronic health, treatments and education to understand their growth journey.

2. Motivate your child

It is important to treat a child with Down syndrome like someone without any disabilities. Having high expectations for your child will encourage them to be enthusiastic and strive for independence. Nevertheless, still set tasks based on their attention span and abilities. You want to set them up for success while still allowing them to learn and grow.

Divide tasks into small steps if needed. Additionally, children with Down syndrome are often visual learners, so demonstrating an action for them may speed up their learning process. However, remember to present only a few stimuli/objects at a time. If your child makes a mistake, correct it by asking them to try again, and applaud a correct response adequately.

3. Take advantage of therapies

While there is no cure for Down syndrome, therapies, treatments and educational support can improve the quality of life of those affected. Of course, early intervention is the key.

Due to frequent hearing impairment, speech-language therapy can often improve communication skills. Hypotonia (low muscle tone) in extremities is a common issue that physical therapy can help with. Meanwhile, occupational therapy meets the needs for fine motor skills and the performance of daily tasks like getting dressed, brushing teeth, and writing or using the computer.

Lexington Services offers all three of these therapy options to assist your child in developing and achieving milestones that will help them grow more independent.

4. Look into special education and assistive technology

Under the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), special education is available to these children until they either complete high school or turn 21. These services are delineated through an individualized education plan (IEP) drawn up by the school, parents and health professionals. Assistive technology devices such as hearing aids, walking aids, special-grip pencils/pens, touchscreen tablets and computers can also make learning more accessible. Check here for our suggestions on special needs apps!

5. Connect with other parents and support groups

Support groups through social media, local organizations and church groups will not only help you stay informed but also stay strong! Bonding with other people in similar situations provides a level of comfort that you can’t get anywhere else.

With major advances made in understanding this disability, people with Down syndrome are living longer, happier lives. In fact, the life expectancy for these individuals has increased from 25 years in 1980 to over 60 years today. Lexington Services is dedicated to the betterment of both your and your child’s lives through exceptional special needs education services. Explore our website for more information.

What To Know If Your Baby Is Diagnosed With Down Syndrome

New parents often have an idea of what their lives are going to be like with their little ones and all the milestones they hope to see over their young lives. They build a profile for success and health for their child almost as soon as they are conceived. Nothing changes these notions that are formed early on like a diagnosis of a long term condition that will affect a child’s entire life such as Down Syndrome. Often times the detour in the life path can seem devastating to new parents that have plans for their children. It can be overwhelming knowing that there are conditions and limitations associated with Down Syndrome that they will have to contend with for their entire lives. And what does this diagnosis mean for you as a parent and your plans? These are the questions that grip you almost immediately and it’s hard for parents to see the good things immediately. At Lexington Services, our members with Down Syndrome are some of the brightest people we see everyday. We want to encourage you to take a breath, take some time, and remember these 5 things if your baby is diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Your Baby Is An Infant

It’s far too easy to let an entire life play out before your eyes and forget that your baby is just that: your baby. No baby is a “Down Syndrome” baby and should not have their identity reduced to that. This new life and new person will be a unique individual with wants and dreams, preferences, quirks and amazing traits. They will carry a little bit of you in them, but they will be their own person too and you will be surprised how little the effect that Down Syndrome will have on who they are.

Down Syndrome Will Not Define Them

Too many people, especially people on the outside, will assume that Down Syndrome will become representative of your child’s whole life and that’s far from the truth. There will be amazing milestones and heart aches over the years that have nothing to do with their condition. The entire experience of growing and bonding and developing will not be predicated on Down Syndrome. Instead, your child will have preferences, opinions, likes and dislikes. They will have strengths and weaknesses, just the same as any of their peers. It’s easy to feel like everything will be defined by it, but don’t let the diagnosis alter your course or theirs and you will always be happy to see how high they climb.

They Will Achieve Many Milestones

For some reason, many parents compete over the milestones of their child and what they have accomplished. And yet, this is not a happy practice. For a child with Down Syndrome, they will achieve many of the same accomplishments that many of their typically developing peers achieve, as long as they are given some time to do so. They aren’t going to be in a sprint to hit milestones like some of their peers and their parents. Instead, you need to give them the time to follow their own path uphill. You will be there to see those accomplishments and they will be just as meaningful or beautiful as you can imagine.

The Challenges Lead To A Unique Life

Many kids with Down Syndrome do struggle with certain things over their lifetime, especially if they don’t get the parental and professional support they need. Some kids will struggle verbally, some kids will have trouble with the range of motion, others might have issues controlling certain behaviors. These challenges are not abnormal, even amongst their typically developing peers. Every challenge that parents come up against should be looked at as an opportunity to help your child with Down Syndrome grow. Don’t waste time on anger, regret or exasperation. Take the challenge as an opportunity to get creative and invest into this unique life you lead.

There Is A Lot Of Support Available

One thing that you need to know immediately is that you are not alone. There are parents just like you that have also had a similar experience that are ready to help and offer advice. There are blogs and support websites that are ready to guide you through the early years. And there are amazing service providers that can direct you to resources and provide you with the support you need. For Arizona families, Lexington Services is here to make a connection with you and your family. Contact our team to find out more about what Lexington Services can do for you. Call 480-900-1009 or email for more information.