What is it like to parent a child with Down syndrome? For the most part, it is the same as parenting any other child. Look at the list below of Henry's attributes. Do they sound like any other boys or kids you know?
- He will take a toy, any toy, and throw it, bang it, scratch it on the floor, fling it across the room, or in general make a big noise with it.
- He laughs when he burps (boys just know this is funny, somehow, right?).
- He loves goldfish and pizza. He doesn't like peas.
- He smiles when his sisters play with him, and giggles like crazy when they tickle him.
- He wants the remote. Or the phone. Or my Blackberry. He knows the difference between the pretend phone and the real thing.
- He loves Elmo and Signing Time.
- He is the happiest kid I know. When he cries, I come running, because he so rarely fusses.
Are there challenges with Down syndrome? Certainly. Children with Down syndrome present different characteristics, but in general they are delayed in motor skills and speech, and they are at greater risk for respiratory and other illnesses. When Henry gets a little cough, it can sometimes turn to croup. About forty percent of children with Down syndrome are born with heart defects, some of which require surgery.
Henry, for example, has some hearing issues. He can hear well, but often fluid is in his ears. Ear tubes helped with this, but he needs to see an ENT every six months just to be monitored. Luckily, Henry did not have any heart issues present at birth, and his eyesight is great (some children w/DS have eyesight issues).
The great thing about Down syndrome is that there is so much research and support for this condition. There are clear guidelines for medical treatment, such as the need for regular thyroid testing. And the support and encouragement from other parents is amazing.
I am happy I have a child with Down syndrome, as he has brought more joy and blessing to our family than I ever could have imagined. I hope that others are moved to embrace people with Down syndrome into their lives.
Update: As I pray for Isaiah and many others to find a family, I am happy to report that five orphans from Reece's Rainbow have been chosen by their forever families this week. Praise God!