Having a child with Down syndrome can be incredibly challenging. While you want to provide your son or daughter with the most ‘normal’ life possible, you realize that there will always be shortcomings. Sometimes, the daily frustrations can feel almost insurmountable.
Fortunately, you’re far from alone. Parents all over are learning the critical tips, tricks, and habits to improve their children’s lives, one day at a time.
Here are six ways to make your child’s life happier, healthier, and ultimately more fulfilling.
1. Find Your Community
Like anyone, children with Down syndrome crave social interaction and acceptance. They want to be around like-minded children as well as other kids without the disability. As a parent, you’ll also be able to let your hair down and talk with other adults who share your feelings and understand your experiences.
Consider the following support networks and community opportunities for you and your child.
- Down Syndrome Groups – Large-scale organizations like the National Down Syndrome Society and Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action provide all the information and networking you could possibly need. With the help of these groups, you can find care, resources, and that much-needed thing all of us need – human connection!
- Online Forums – There are plenty of anonymous message boards and forums where you can share anything that comes to mind. Vent about your struggles, ask for advice, or seek specific resources – with internet networks, the world of knowledge is literally at your fingertips.
- Friends & Families – Life with a child with Down syndrome may be hard for most people to fully understand. That’s why you must seek like-minded people. Through local organizations, support networks, and family advocacy groups, you can connect with others who understand. Who knows, your child might just get a playdate out of it!
2. Establish a Routine
Having a routine is important for all of us. You get in a habit, you organize your life, and you find meaning and value in structure. Children with Down syndrome are no different, and in fact, may benefit significantly from a manageable routine.
What are your child’s needs, wants, and capabilities? From simple everyday tasks like getting dressed and bathing to recreation like playgrounds and videogames, try to create a predictable structure.
Routines can incorporate life skills like personal hygiene and self-care while also targeting important goals, such as completing chores and learning (i.e., reading a storybook). Just remember to keep a positive attitude and provide clear, concise directions. And always, enjoy time together to celebrate all those small victories!
3. Encourage and Promote Development
Your little one may lag behind many of his or her peers when it comes to developmental milestones, and that’s totally okay. This isn’t a race, it’s about understanding the right pace and providing a fun but challenging environment that