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Learning that your precious little one has Down’s syndrome can certainly come as a shock. However, with the right information, support and nurturing environment, children with Down’s can thrive and live happy, fulfilled lives. If you’ve recently found out your child has Down’s syndrome, keep these five tips in mind.

1. Learn All You Can About Down’s Syndrome

While the initial Down’s diagnosis may stir up emotions, arming yourself with information about the condition can help you know what to expect. Read up on common health issues associated with Down’s so you can catch problems early. Also, research developmental milestones so you know if your child needs some extra help in any areas. Connect online with other families who have children with Down’s as well to share advice and support.

2. Encourage Learning Through Play

Stimulating your child’s mind through play is vital for their development. Children with Down’s syndrome often learn best visually and through hands-on play, rather than verbally. So, provide lots of opportunities to draw, build with blocks, play pretend, complete puzzles, etc. You can also adapt story time with puppets or props to help concepts sink in. Praise your child for trying new activities and reward small accomplishments.  

3. Work Closely with Your Child’s GP

Because children with Down’s have a higher risk for certain health issues, having trusted healthcare providers on your side is a must. Attend all recommended screenings and checkups to catch any concerns early. Point out any developmental delays you notice as well so therapists can address them promptly. Also, consult doctors, counsellors, special education staff and others who comprise your child’s healthcare team regularly. If you are fostering special needs children, work closely with your foster agency to get all the support you need. 

4. Encourage Independence 

It can be tempting to do everything for your child if they struggle with certain self-care skills. However, promoting independence will build their confidence and abilities over time. Break activities like dressing, washing up or feeding into smaller steps. Provide support but let your child complete what they can on their own. Customise clothes with velcro or elastic for easier changing as well. With time and practice, your child will become more independent.  

5. Embrace an Environment of Acceptance

While health issues may pop up now and then, children with Down’s syndrome deserve unconditional love and acceptance like any child. Encourage siblings, extended family and friends to engage positively with them from a young age. Also, lead by example and avoid limiting your child based on preconceived expectations. Celebrate every milestone achievement and make it clear your child is cherished for exactly who they are.

Raising a child with Down’s syndrome has its challenges but also many rewards. Following these tips will help you provide the encouragement, support and care your special little one deserves. Remember, every child has their own unique gifts regardless of a diagnosis. So, nurture your child’s talents and celebrate each new accomplishment, no matter how small.

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