What to expect when you raise a child with Down syndrome
Research has shown that the number of babies born with Down syndrome has steadily increased over the last 30 years. This goes to show that you’re not alone if you’re parenting a child with Down syndrome. Many of you may be battling with questions about this condition, even if you’ve been managing it for many years.
Here’s what to expect when raising a child with Down syndrome:
- Slower Physical Growth and Development in Kids
Children with Down syndrome tend to grow and develop at a slower pace than other children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a useful set of growth charts so you can see what to expect for your child. While every child is different, one of the first things that parents will notice about their child with Down syndrome is that they are slower to reach milestones. When it comes to crawling, walking, and talking, children with Down syndrome will meet those same milestones as others but it will take them longer to do so. Parents may also notice that their children don’t develop motor skills the same way as others due to certain physical characteristics such as low muscle tone and strength, and increased joint flexibility.
- Learning comes Slowly to kids with Down syndrome
Just like physical development, learning comes more slowly for kids with Down syndrome. They are intellectually delayed and approach learning a bit differently. They benefit greatly from visual learning. Children with Down syndrome may have trouble speaking clearly and grasping grammar and sentence formation. Reading comes relatively easily, but number skills and holding verbal information in their short-term memory can be a struggle.
- Social Development is typically not delayed
Unlike physical and cognitive, and psychological development, when it comes to social development, many children with Down syndrome more closely align with timelines of kids without Down syndrome. Babies with Down syndrome are normally engaging and affectionate, and their first smile usually occurs only a week or two later than other children. They also learn social behavior from others, whether from friends in real life or from television characters. However, not every child with Down syndrome will be socially active. Some might need help engaging with peers, and some might become more or less social over time.
Parents should teach their children the skills he or she needs to thrive on his or her own, both from a practical perspective (such as dressing themselves and cooking) and socially (such as by gaining awareness of social cues and proper behavior). Through there are many differences between the growth and development of a child with Down syndrome when compared with that of someone without the condition, it is important not to obsess over them.
Those with Down syndrome have the same desires, same fears, and same interests as other kids. But being mindful of the differences can be helpful so parents can recognize where the child may need more support.