Disability is a word that is often seen as critical, rather than descriptive.
The definition of being able-bodied, mentally or physically or both, changes every day. For some it means whether or not they can walk up a flight of stairs without pain. For others it comes down to brain chemistry and the amount of chemicals they are receiving. Bringing a child with disability into the family can feel like a lot of questions with no discernible answers. Instead of feeling hopeless, though, trust there are medical resources available to set you and your little one on the right path.
Celebrating Down syndrome starts with awareness and ends with love. Learn more about Down syndrome symptoms, treatment, and expectations below.
Easily one of the most important elements of approaching Down syndrome awareness is discussing disability in general. What does it mean to be disabled, and likewise, what does it mean to be able-bodied? The most basic definition of disability is difficulty — or an impossibility — of achieving certain actions or lifestyle expectations. A common misconception is that a person needs to be unable to do a certain thing to qualify as disabled. Thanks to the expanding definition of disability, things are changing for the better.
Struggling to live your day-to-day life — but still being ‘able’ to — still qualifies as a disability. This is important to keep in mind when having a baby with Down syndrome. In the United States around one out of every 700 babies is born with Down syndrome, equaling a little over 5,000 babies every year. On a wider scale, it’s estimated around 10% of the world’s population (or 650 million people) live with a disability. Your best tool to help your child live a happy life is to equip yourself with knowledge and turn away from misconceptions.
A common misconception is that babies with Down syndrome will not live fulfilling lives. It’s also common to think there are few resources out there to help your family do the best possible job in providing medical and emotional care. The average life expectancy for someone with Down syndrome is around 60 years old, though some can live into their 80’s. The population of people with Down syndrome may be larger in some areas and smaller in others. No matter where you live, though, a supportive community goes a long way.
Down syndrome awareness spreads far and wide. You need to talk with an adviser that specializes in working with children with Down syndrome, as they’ll provide you the reliability you need moving forward. They’ll be able to spot potential problems early, provide the very best in physical care, and offer up mental health resources when needed. Children with Down syndrome have a higher probability of developing heart disease and thyroid disease down the line. Diet, exercise, and social support are paramount in counteracting these symptoms.
There’s no need to panic. Thousands of American families today see their children living happy and fulfilling lives with Down syndrome. Your first step should be to meet with a provider that’s experienced in Down syndrome education so they can help you create a health plan that sticks. They’ll help you learn about Down syndrome and will provide you connections to reach out to similar people in the area. Support groups can be incredibly helpful not just for parents, but for your children to make friends and learn essential social skills.
A fulfilling life starts with a single step. Take yours by talking to a doctor about parent a child with Down syndrome.