This is the last article for Down syndrome Awareness, October 2012. I thank everyone who has read and commented on these articles.
This post is more personal. I have scratched the surface, because I am somewhat of a private person, but I feel I should share how my life is living with a child who has Down syndrome.
The Big Question, Did you Know?
The first question people ask me when they learn that my daughter has Down Syndrome is, “Did you know she had Down Syndrome before she was born.” The answer is no. We knew there was a high chance that our child could have Down Syndrome, but we were not certain, because we did not have further testing (amniocentesis).
We chose this route, because it was important that I continue being happy and having a good attitude during the pregnancy. I did not want my child coming into this world unhappy, grouchy and mean. Today, my child is the happiest and friendliest child I know and I attribute it to how my attitude was while carrying her.
Most people after learning that their child has Down Syndrome before the child is born, choose to end the pregnancy, which is usually around 20 weeks. I do understand why people choose to end the pregnancy, but I could never do that.
Some people don’t understand why I chose to have my child. I am glad my daughter is living, because I had to have her 2 weeks before she was due, if the doctors hadn’t gotten her out when they did, she would have died. There is a purpose for her life and I count it all joy that she is alive, healthy and doing well.
It is Not Easy
I would be lying if I told you that everything was peaches and creams, because it is not. It is not easy seeing other children do things that come naturally for them, when your child has challenges. But one thing you must always keep in mind is that all children do things in their own time and are unique; it doesn’t matter if they have challenges or not.
These days I don’t focus on the negatives, I focus on the positives. Even though it is not easy, my daughter is a healthy, thriving, unique little being with lots of love and gifts inside her. The positives always outweigh the negatives and that’s the attitude that we should have in our every day lives.
Not Getting Invites
My daughter has never been invited to birthday parties. I used to feel hurt about this because I know people who have children within the same age range as my daughter, but they never bother to invite her. Noticed I said used to feel hurt, because these days, I don’t care if she gets an invite or not.
I once asked one of my friends who has a daughter with Down Syndrome, if she gets invites to parties. My friend’s response was, “not really.” She went on to say that “she gets invites from the children that she attends school with, but very few from those in the neighborhood and that we personally know.”
I believe that some people are afraid to reach out and include a child who is different, because of their lack of knowledge. But I say to you, don’t be afraid, get to know the family and what they go through raising a child who is a little different.
Many people shy away from getting to know people who have Down Syndrome. People who have Down Syndrome are more like you than different and we can learn a lot from them as well as about ourselves, but you must take the time to get to know them.
I had a neighbor take my daughter to Callaway Gardens. That was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for my daughter. Someone taking time from their schedule to have fun with my daughter; priceless. My daughter enjoyed it. It is people like this that makes our lives richer.
Do I worry about invites today? No, not at all; it is what it is.
Even though my daughter’s speech is not where I would like it to be, she does well in other areas. She is a fast learner and that amazes me.
Don’t assume that just because a child has Down Syndrome that they cannot learn. Any child can learn, you just have to teach them and show them the way. A child with Down Syndrome is no exception.
Never underestimate a child who has Down syndrome, because they are actually smarter than you could ever imagine. We first have to believe that they can learn, and if we believe then, all things are possible.
It may take them longer to learn things and grasp concepts, but when they get it, they get it. Everyone is teachable and we have to meet them where they are.
Learning that your child has Down Syndrome is devastating. I downhearted for a while, with no physical person to confide in, but as time went by, I looked past my hurt and pain and saw a beautiful child who needed me more.
The first words that my daughter heard when she was born was from the doctor. I will never forget his words and this is what he said, “She’s a pretty little thing.”
My daughter has gotten compliments on how beautiful she is from the time she was born, until now. I used to dislike it when anyone said that she was pretty, cute or beautiful, because all I could see was Down Syndrome and I thought they were just being nice.
These days, I am grateful for the compliments. I don’t see a child with Down Syndrome, I see a beautiful child with endless possibilities. It took me a while to get to this point, but I have finally arrived.
Even though my daughter is different from other children, she is here and she is alive and well. Now who could ask for anything more?
Note: If you have family, a friend, or a neighbor who has a child with Down Syndrome, don’t overlook them because of a diagnosis. Get to know them, it will enrich your life more than you could ever know.
Below is the Welcome to Holland poem that explains what it is like to have a child with a disability. If you are having trouble viewing the video, just click here.