Some things to keep in mind when you are parenting a child with Down syndrome
Enabling a child with Down syndrome to be independent and self-reliant comes with many challenges. Keeping the child safe is a major concern for instance. Here are some tips and life lessons for parents on how to raise your child to be empowered.
Catch them young. This is true for encouraging talents and skills in all kids and no different for a child with Down syndrome. The condition brings with it some challenges but with the right training, patience and support, kids with Down syndrome grow up to become enabled and self-aware.
For starters, get informed. Find out as much as you can about the condition. Don't just rely on the Internet. Talk to experts, join support groups and maybe check out responsible online programmes and resources.
Talking to other parents with children with Down syndrome helps a lot but remember every child is different so don't get impatient or discouraged. Work with therapists, special educators and doctors in order to ensure that your child gets the best.
Chitra Shah, Founder, Satya Special School in Puducherry, works closely with children with Down syndrome. She says parents need to be extremely involved with their child's upbringing.
Children with Down syndrome are the easiest to handle. They are very friendly and can pick up a lot of skills, especially if they are verbal. With the right training, they can enter mainstream as well. Parents have to be patient throughout and try to understand the child. A Down syndrome child will often have health issues. So that needs to be constantly monitored. With a smile, these innocent kids can win hearts. Chitra Shah, Founder, Satya Special School.
Here are some parenting tips to think about:
- Know more about the disability- There are many online materials and resources that a parent can refer to. Also take the advice of special educators and therapists.
- Encourage child to become independent- Children with Down syndrome can do things on their own if they are provided the right training and guidance. Be it eating on their own or getting dressed, make sure you show the child. You can give them vocational training when they are older to enable independence.
- Be patient - Enjoy the process of teaching them new things. Take this as an opportunity to know yourself better and discover your strengths and skills in empowering your child. Your child has its whole life ahead of them to learn new things and grow.
- Take care of yourselves -Don't get too stressed or worked up if things don't go your way sometimes. Find time for friends and loved ones, build a comfortable support system, take care of your health and go easy because it is important to look after yourselves in order to provide the best for your child.
Manohar Tejam has a 26-year-old son Sameer Tejam with Down syndrome and she puts patience way above everything else. "A parent who has a child with Down syndrome must be very understanding and patient. Just like any other child, their behaviour starts changing when they grow up. Parents must understand that".
Take this as an opportunity to discover your child's strengths and enable it.