Wednesday, October 20, 2010

31 for 21 - The Joy of Raising a Child with Down Syndrome!

My oldest daughter wrote the following in response to an article she read several years ago.
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The Joy of Raising a Child with Down Syndrome!
I read the article “What it Really Takes to Raise a Child with Down Syndrome” and something did not sit well with me about it. It is because I have a sweet little brother with Down syndrome and I have first-hand experience on what it takes to raise a child with Down syndrome. I do not know whether the author of this article does or not, but she did not give a very good picture of an individual with Down syndrome. This article did point out that there are a lot of therapies that are now available for those with Down syndrome, which is good.
There are a few things that I wish to point out:
~ “Then they are faced with the decision of whether or not they would be able to care for all of the needs of the baby by themselves. . . . Of course this article is in no way suggesting that you should not raise your own child, but instead it will highlight exactly what would be required on the part of the parent. It is up to the parent in order to decide if they can handle the situation or if they will need help, or if they just can not deal with the situation.”
This article surely is giving a perspective about Down syndrome that is not completely accurate. God is the one who creates every person, even those who have Down syndrome. Most any parent is capable of raising a child with a handicap. God is the one who has given that family the child with a handicap, whether it is Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, etc. It is extremely unfortunate though, that in our world, about 90% of babies with Down syndrome are murdered (aborted). I wish this weren’t so! But, part of the problem arises when doctors do not give the parents accurate and true information regarding Down syndrome. The information they give paints a sad, often inaccurate, picture. This is part of the problem with this article, as is shown below.
~ “First of all you will need to realize that someone will have to be with your baby all of the time. Even as they grow older they will need constant supervision and attention . . . One thing that parents need to keep in mind is that children with Down syndrome do not grow or learn at the same rate as other children their age.”
The above statements are just not true for the entire population with Down syndrome. There are some individuals who need much help, much supervision, and do not grow or learn at the same rate as other children their age. But, there are also other individuals who excel, who live on their own, who hold a job, who get married, who do grow and learn at the same rate as other children their age.
My brother does not need constant supervision because of his Down syndrome. He’s similar to any other two-year old. He’s not stupid, he understands a lot, actually. I understand that some situations may not make it capable for someone to give “constant supervision” to their child, if that is needed, but it is not always needed. Besides, with the world we live in today, there are many options available for parents. If someone really loved their child, whether they have DS or not, they would be willing to be there for them whenever their child needed them, given that the circumstance permits.
My brother with Down syndrome does grow at the same rate as his twin sister (who does not have DS). He does learn the same things she does. He is involved in everything the family does and he is not put off to the side to be able to do things that only he can do. If we would have listened to the negative information we received when my brother was diagnosed with DS, we may not have tried as hard to do certain things with him. He may have not learned to walk until over 2 years of age, but instead God blessed him and us and he learned to walk at 17 months (which isn’t too different than children without DS). You cannot listen to false and negative “expectations”, because there are many times when these are not true. There are some things which he is slower in and there are some things which he exceeds in more than she. But, what does that matter? There are children who do not have Down syndrome who are slower in learning and who don’t grow at the same rate as other children their age. My brother does require more work, care, patience, love and diligence, but I praise God for him and am so thankful to have a brother with Down syndrome.
One thing which my brother does exceed in more is his joy, his love and his happiness. He is so happy and content the vast majority of the time. He loves to give kisses to everyone and greet most who arrives at our house. He makes people smile when he looks at them with his big, round eyes, his chubby cheeks, his cute face that is totally part of his big smile and funny faces he makes. How can you resist such a sweet boy? It would be great if more people were as happy and content as he.
My point is that you cannot make a flat out statement with all of these “do not’s.” There are a lot of “do’s.”
~ “You will also have to get your child checked by their doctor on a regular basis. Most children who are born with Down syndrome also have other health problems or may develop additional health problems later on.”
This is true, that most children with Down syndrome are either born with health problems or develop them later on. This is, in part, why children with Down syndrome (as do other children) need a loving parent and family who are willing to do all they can for their child. My brother’s health problems have been minimal, all by God’s grace. But, thankfully, in this day-and-age, there is much which can be done for individuals with Down syndrome. Cardiologists for heart problems, ENT’s for ear, nose and throat problems, speech therapists for building the oral muscles and helping them speak, physical and occupational therapists to help with building their muscles and making them excel in both gross and fine motor skills, TNI to help their immune system and much, much more.
Sincerely,
Qadoshyah Fish
Sister to a wonderful little boy with Down syndrome!

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