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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.