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Some life lessons if you are raising a child with Down Syndrome

1. Your baby is a baby first. You are not giving birth to a "Down syndrome" baby. You are giving birth to your baby, a unique individual who will bear resemblance to you and your family in addition to some similar features to others with Down syndrome.

2. Your baby will still achieve typical milestones. If you have siblings or friends who had babies right around the same time you had yours, you may find yourself falling into the comparison trap. Do not compare your baby to typically developing babies. Instead, start listing the things that your baby has accomplished. Don't diminish your child's beautiful and victorious field. The milestones might take a little bit longer, but when they finally happen? The celebration is so much more joyful.

3. There is a lot of support and help available. There is always support for a parent with a child who has special needs. Did you know that babies with Down Syndrome can be supported by many different professionals are involved in providing these services, including specialists in motor skills, language and communication, learning acquisition, and social-emotional development." You child will begin therapies to help her reach milestones faster and correctly. This will set good paths for future learning.

4. Did you know that your child’s beauty takes your breath away? Have you looked at the sparkling almond-shaped eyes that are the same color as you, a captivating smile that often leads to laughter so infectious that the hardest of hearts will melt in response, small hands that are quick to seek mischief and then sign for forgiveness, a cute gap between her toes that is perfect for wearing sandals? Always allow the reality to crumble your mind and get to understand the person hidden under the label.  Remember that there is much beauty in Down syndrome. 

5. Your baby will experience a wide range of emotions. You might hear someone say that your baby will be "always happy," which can make your baby seem somehow less human. But the truth is that your child will display all types of moods -- happy, sad, silly, angry, whiny, and hysterical, delighted -- the same as any other person.

6. Frustrations can be a good excuse to get creative with your teaching approach. Embrace the unique frustrations you may face and realize that every child learns differently. For example, if your child has difficulty communicating verbally, teach her sign language. A quote on the website of Signing Time, a Parents Choice-approved DVD series for children, says: "Sign language is a wonderful tool that allows even very small children to express themselves."

7. Down syndrome will not define your child's entire existence. The huge bit of news will not overshadow your whole life and will eventually slide into the background of a normal family life. You will have bad days that have nothing to do with a diagnosis. You will laugh again and cry again about other things. You will enjoy a lot with your child that has nothing to do with chromosomes or therapy or doctors' appointments.