Five days after our son Beckett was born, he was diagnosed with Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome. Those first few days were filled with sadness, fear and questions….the unknown is very frightening. Beckett is almost three now, and he’s healthy, loving, smart and kind. Everyone who meets him falls instantly in love. We knew nothing about Down syndrome but we quickly became experts, as did our family and friends. We didn’t know anyone with Down syndrome, now we know lots of people. Beckett changed a lot of things for us, all for the better.
Here are a few facts about Down syndrome:
- Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra #21 chromosome—the medical term is Trisomy 21.
- Children with Down syndrome have some physical, intellectual and emotional developmental delays.
- Children with Down syndrome may also have other medical conditions.
- Down syndrome is not related to race, religion or socio-economic status.
- Children with Down syndrome share more similarities than differences with other children. They learn, laugh, play and want friends, just like all children.
- Individuals with Down syndrome benefit from loving parents, early medical and educational attention and positive public attitudes.
- Children with Down syndrome have a full complement of emotions and attitudes, are creative and imaginative and grow up to live independent lives with varying degrees of support and accommodations needed.
Here are some things that really irritate me:
- Use of the word “retarded”, especially when used to insensitively describe something stupid.
- The term ‘Downs kids’—they are just children who happen to have Down syndrome.
- People who say: ‘They’re such happy people’. I’d like to think that my child being happy is because we love him, not because he has an extra chromosome.
- People who assume and don’t ask questions. Trust me, parents are more than happy to have a thoughtful discussion about their child.
We’re all vulnerable to challenges; no one is immune, no one lives a perfect life. My dreams for Beckett are the same dreams you have for your child. I want him to be happy and healthy—I want him to be everything he wants to be. When I look at Beckett and Zoë, I feel so much love and happiness. My children hold my heart—nothing makes me happier.
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