Congratulations on the birth, or expected birth, of your baby! You probably have many questions, concerns and fears right now. That is perfectly normal. Remember that a Down syndrome diagnosis is not as life changing as the fact that you have a newborn baby. And in most ways, your baby will be just like other infants. All babies need to be fed, held and most of all, loved.
There will be challenges in raising your child, but there will also be many joys. Down syndrome is a condition your baby has - it is not who your baby is. Now is the time to begin learning all you can about Down syndrome and this section is a great place to start.
1. First and foremost - enjoy your baby! Know that your baby has the same need for love, nourishment, and security that all babies have. Your child is a person first and Down syndrome is just a secondary characteristic. Children with Down syndrome share some common physical features, but they do not all look the same. Physically, your child will look more like you, your spouse or other family members than other children with Down syndrome. Your child will be able to sit, stand, walk, talk and learn like other children do - but at his or her own rate. To learn more about development milestones, click here.
2. Learn more about Down syndrome. You did nothing to cause your baby to have Down syndrome. It is a chromosomal condition. It just happens. And it happens to people of all races, ages, and economic levels. Many new parents, particularly mothers, blame themselves and wonder if they could have caused this condition. The answer is a resounding NO. Click here to learn more about Down Syndrome.
3. Find a pediatrician familiar with Down syndrome and its unique medical issues. Remember that your child is an individual and may vary greatly from other children with Down syndrome in terms of health. Some children will experience more complicated health issues than others and may need extra care or vigilance. This is not your fault. It is simply the way that Down syndrome uniquely affects them. Refer to our list of doctors in the Riyadh area or familiarize yourself with the different medical conditions your child may be at risk for here.
4. Find out about early intervention programs in your area. The first years of life are a critical time in a child’s development. All young children go through their most rapid and developmentally significant changes during this time. During these early years they achieve the basic physical, cognitive, language, social and self-help skills that lay the foundation for future progress. Children with Down syndrome typically face delays in certain areas of development, so early intervention is highly recommended. It can begin any time after birth but the earlier it starts, the better. Click here to learn about our Early Intervention program.
5. Connect with other parents of children with Down syndrome. Sharing stories with other parents can be a great source of support and inspiration, but do remember that nobody can tell you how much your child will be able to achieve. Each child’s path is unique. We are continuing to learn new things every day about the capabilities of people with Down syndrome. It’s impossible to predict outcomes for any individual child when they are very young, but know that people with Down syndrome in general are achieving much more than they did years ago due to advances in medical care, research breakthroughs, and better quality education. Even though your child cannot and should not be compared with any other, it can be comforting to hear from other parents who have been where you are now. Click here to learn about their experiences.