What You Don’t Know About Down Syndrome May Hurt You
There are many misconceptions about raising the child with Down syndrome. Fear is a common initial reaction by parents when learning their child has Down syndrome. One thing that experienced parents of Down syndrome children can agree upon is that raising a child with Down syndrome is nothing to be feared.
October is Down Syndrome National Awareness Month. Approximately 6,000 children are born each year with the genetic disorder. That equates to approximately one in 700 children. Information is essential for raising a child with Down syndrome. Here are some important facts parents of Down syndrome children need to know.
Down syndrome is not one-size-fits-all
Just as healthy children can vary in their social, physical, speech and language abilities, so too can a child with Down syndrome. Down syndrome children do learn and they are capable of so very much, it may just take a little longer than your average child. The stigma associated with a Down syndrome child must be changed.
Early intervention is crucial
For children with Down syndrome, time is of the essence. This is because Down syndrome children have a greater likelihood of having developmental disabilities. Young childhood is an important time for a child’s development of cognitive, physical, speech and social skills. Mandated by federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA, children with Down syndrome are eligible for assistance in the form of therapy.
Approved children can begin receiving therapy immediately after birth. With the IDEA program, assistance is available until the age of three, however some states allow for assistance to continue until the child reaches kindergarten. Typical therapy includes physical therapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy. Approved children can also not be denied therapy due to their inability to pay for such care.
They’re living longer
Down syndrome children have higher life expectancies than previously noted. In the past, the life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome was 25 years of age. The advancements in medicine and the availability of resources for early intervention have grown this number to 60 years of age.
There is help available
It is important for parents of children with Down syndrome to understand the many resources that are available, not only for their child, but for the parents as well. Having the right support is instrumental in both the parent and the child’s success. There are many questions that must be answered and having the resources and information available can transform fear into peace. The National Down Syndrome Society has a wealth of information available. This information can be found by clicking here.
If you are someone you know is pregnant or has a child with Down syndrome, please share this information. If you have questions about caring for a child with Down syndrome, we are here to help. You may schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric providers by calling 910.486.5437.