Newborn baby with down syndrome Parenting a child with down syndrome

New Parents and a Child With Down Syndrome

New parents sometimes face unexpected differences in their child during pregnancy or soon after the child is born, and there’s a number of physical or mental defects, or merely differences, that parents may see in their child. Aside from severe physical deformities that threaten the child’s life, there may not be much to worry about. More and more, parents today are realizing that having a baby with Down syndrome is not the scary complication that some may expect it to be. Parenting a child with Down syndrome may not differ from parenting non-disabled children as some may realize, and Down syndrome baby features, while distinctive, can be appreciated for that they are. A newborn baby with Down syndrome can in fact be a great joy, and in most respects, having a baby with down syndrome is hardly anything different from usual. Every child is different, of course, and sometimes, there will be added challenged or differences when having a baby with Down syndrome. Still, this isn’t usually a reason to fret.

Having a Baby with Down Syndrome

Parents who are having a baby with Down syndrome may expect a few added challenges or differences when raising their new child, but in the bigger picture, a Down syndrome child isn’t that much different from others. There are many stories of children, teenagers, and adults with Down syndrome who have similar successes and happiness as others. And while every person is different, parents who are having a baby with Down syndrome may expect their child to reach many of the same milestones as other non-disabled children. Technically speaking, Down syndrome a disability, but the severity varies, and sometimes, it may hardly even seem like a disability at all (parents should still follow advice and suggestions from the child’s doctor, though, just in case). A Down syndrome child can still go to school, graduate and get their diploma, attend college, get a job, have friends, and even marry. In the past, those with mental disabilities were often dismissed as helpless and incapable of reaching those personal milestones. More recently, however, that paradigm has shifted to something more positive.

One thing to note: while your child’s Down syndrome should not be entirely dismissed (it is still a real medical condition), by the same token, it doesn’t have to cast a shadow over every moment of the child’s day. In many cases, a Down syndrome child or teenager may be more similar to his or her peers than different. Unfortunately, bullying against the differently-abled is still a reality, but there is increasing acceptance and awareness of Down syndrome people and their capabilities. Parents can help their child against any bullying, and more than ever, a Down syndrome child is likely to have understanding and support from his or her teachers, peers, and more. A Down syndrome child may expect more acceptance and recognition than in past decades, and this can make life much easier for them. Something similar can be said about the autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

This is a varied field, and ASD takes many forms. More than some people may be aware, ASD is in fact a spectrum, and this ranges from “classic autism” (the most disabling type) to high-functioning autism (previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome, named after the Austrian doctor Hans Asperger). A child with autism rarely has physical symptoms, which contrasts it with Down syndrome, and instead it can be diagnosed through behavior as early as age two. There are many different symptoms of ASD, and all ASD individuals vary in their specific symptoms and severity. But some common symptoms may include impaired social skills such as avoiding eye contact, failing to correctly read tone of voice or body language, or narrow and focused interests that other people may not appreciate. ASD individuals may also use physical stimulation, or “stims,” to calm themselves, and they may have trouble with a daily routine or dealing with change.

All the same, it is easier than ever for parents of an ASD child to get their child correctly diagnosed, and also get all the support and understanding that the child needs. Here too, many autistic individuals attend and graduate school and college, and get jobs and start families.

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