Raising a Child With Down Syndrome
Every year, roughly 1 in 700 babies is born with Down syndrome, making it the most commonly diagnosed chromosomal disorder in the United States. The National Down Syndrome Society recommends early intervention, such as a combination of exercises, therapies, and activities, for babies with Down syndrome. These actions help address developmental delays that children with Down syndrome often face.
Preparing for the Arrival of Your Child
If your doctor suspects that you are at an elevated risk of having a child with Down syndrome, you will be presented with the option of prenatal genetic testing. Prenatal genetic testing is a noninvasive test that analyzes a blood sample from the mother to determine the risk that your child may be born with a chromosome disorder, in this case, Down syndrome. If the test results show that a higher risk exists, your doctor will present you with further testing options that will be able to give a clear diagnosis of the presence or absence of Down syndrome.
Collecting information about your pregnancy allows you time to prepare and take all necessary steps before the birth of your child. Since children with Down syndrome are typically treated by a team of healthcare providers, knowing ahead of time that your child will need extra care allows you the time to seek out doctors, teachers, and therapists that you feel can help your child the most.
Start Building A Team of Healthcare Professionals
Down syndrome is associated with severe physical abnormalities, such as heart defects and low birth weight. If your doctor detects a heart defect in the baby during your pregnancy, you have time to find a specialist that can present at the time of birth. This way, your baby can get the care he or she needs right away. Additionally, Down syndrome puts individuals at risk for developing various health problems throughout their lives. Find a specialist who understands the potential health complications associated with Down syndrome and who will take the time to follow the proper diagnosis and treatment process during regular checkups with your child.
Address Educational and Developmental Delays Right Away
Children with Down syndrome typically experience delays in learning and speech development. For this reason, your child may benefit from meeting regularly with therapists that specialize in the development of fine motor skills, the development of gross motor skills, and speech and language skills. If you know that your child may need additional help and support in school, start researching programs that will appropriately meet the needs of your child.
Remember That Each Child is Unique
It is important to understand that not all individuals diagnosed with Down syndrome will experience the same symptoms or even the same symptoms at a similar level of severity. Today, individuals with Down syndrome are living longer, fulfilling lives. With support from the community and proper care, someone diagnosed with Down syndrome can attend mainstream schools, maintain a steady job, and have a significantly positive impact on society.