1. What do you envision for your child?
Is it the job they will pursue? Is it the amount of money they earn? Is it how far they will throw a football? A person’s worth is not defined by status or ability. Along those lines, how many people you know have met all of their parent’s expectations in every respect? We raise our children to be kind, loving, and respectful while encouraging them to be whatever they want to be. People with Down syndrome have goals that they work hard to pursue; they have dreams and aspirations; they have skills that they integrate functionally into their lives. What more could a parent want?
2. Would you abort your child if they didn't have Down syndrome?
Our goal is to create an understanding and appreciation of Down syndrome and to educate the world about the boundless similarities of typical children and those with Down syndrome. We acknowledge that abortion is a legal choice in our country, and if you are unsure about having ANY child, we urge you to research all channels before you make any decision.
For those of you who would not abort, had you not received a prenatal diagnosis, we ask you why? If you gave birth and your child was in an accident in infancy that resulted in brain injury, would you abandon that child? If you learned that your typical child needed extra support with speech, would you walk away from your parenting responsibilities? All parents are vulnerable to unexpected diagnoses and mishaps over the course of their child’s life. There are never guarantees that your child won’'t struggle, or hurt, or face challenges. That’'s just part of life; and it’s certainly a part of parenting. Children with Down syndrome come with some additional responsibility, but their quality of life is no less valuable than anyone else. In fact, recent research suggests that their quality of life may even be better.
3. Do you feel you can't handle a child with Down syndrome?
We're here to tell you that you can! Taking care of any child is challenging - changing diapers, sleepless nights, feeding, crying, it is an enormous task – whether your baby has Down syndrome or not! Most of the challenges that come from raising a child with Down syndrome are no different than the challenges that all parents encounter. Setting limits, accessing resources and supports, choosing a school, maintaining work-life balance, earning enough money to support your family- all typical parenting-related stressors. But we all embrace these challenges since the rewards of parenting are that much more bountiful. And this is no less true than with a child who has Down syndrome.
4. Do you really understand what Down syndrome is?
There is an incredible amount of support available for parents. Have you spoken with your local Down syndrome Association? The majority of the information you find online is negative, so it's no wonder that people typically have the wrong idea of what it's like to raise a child with Down syndrome. Websites about medical issues, mental disabilities, and constant care all paint a horrible picture. People with Down syndrome live full successful lives- they become actresses on #1 hit TV programs and prom queens at their high school graduations and musicians and artists. By taking the time to meet individuals with Down syndrome and their families, you will develop a much more accurate picture of what their lives are really like.
5. Have you considered adoption?
You may be surprised to learn that there are waiting lists of families in the United States who wish to adopt a child with Down syndrome. If you are confident that raising a child with Down syndrome is not something you want to do, we urge you to research adoption. With so many eager and loving families waiting, your gift of life would be a dream come-true.
6. Are you scared, nervous, or unsure?
These feelings are extremely common in all parents! We won't pretend that there won'’t be bumps in the road, but, in time, your journey will become easier and filled with joy. Nobody knows how to rock their baby to sleep more than Mom and Dad; nobody knows what foods their baby likes more than Mom and Dad, and no one knows how to care more for their baby than Mom and Dad. The images you see on videos or Internet postings about children Down syndrome are contrived. Parents know how to love their children. Soon enough, you will only see your beautiful, happy, healthy child… who happens to have Down syndrome.
7. Do the medical issues scare you?
Of course they do. It's scary to search online blogs and read about the many potential issues related to Down syndrome. And it’s true – people with Down syndrome have higher risks of certain conditions and health complications. But are you aware of the countless procedures and interventions that resolve most of these medical issues? Doctors are becoming more familiar with Down syndrome and have implemented new and improved procedures to help treat individuals. Do yourself a favor and call your local Down syndrome Clinic and ask about these treatments. Though there is no cure for Down syndrome, would you feel more comfortable knowing that the related conditions can be treated effectively?
8. Have you ever met an individual with Down syndrome?
Hence the title...Know Me First. Would you buy a house unless you saw it first? How would you know if you liked how something tasted unless you tried it? The profiles on this website can never serve justice to an actual face-to-face meeting with your local Down syndrome support group, other parents, and babies and adults with Down syndrome. Over and over we have stressed the point of taking the time to understand the facts and embrace the support at your fingertips.
Here are some of the common questions parents have about Down syndrome. We hope our answers help to clarify your concerns and shed a brighter light on the horrible misconceptions perpetuated by the media and medical community. If there is anything we haven't answered, we urge you to email us with your questions:
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