I remember sitting in the doctor's office, pregnant with our first child. The doctor reviewed all of the prenatal tests that would determine what could be "wrong" with my baby. I promised my husband I would love my child regardless of "what was wrong."
October can easily be colored Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or splashed with purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. However, this year I choose to honor the month with yellow and blue because it's also Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
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According to a blog called Big Blueberry Eyes, "Down Syndrome is medically known as Trisomy 21. Trisomy 21 is for the 3 copies of the 21st chromosome that individuals with Down syndrome have. There are 31 days in the month of Oct. The blog challenge is to blog for 31 days for (T)21." Today I support the thousands of bloggers who are logging in and writing 31 for 21.
If you have never met someone with Down Syndrome or do not know anyone personally, just google "31 for 21" and see the inspiring families showcasing their loved ones. I have learned a lot from reading the blogs of women who are raising children with Down Syndrome. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned:
1. Flexibility. You never know what each day will bring; sometimes you just have to roll with it!
2. Humor. You have to laugh because some things are just downright funny, and sometimes you have to laugh because that's a better solution than crying.
3. Communication. Kids with Down Syndrome will teach anyone how to communicate with words, actions, behaviors, expressions ... there is a lot of communication going on.
4. Teamwork. It really does take a village to raise kids. Watch a parent of a child with Down Syndrome carefully, and you will see how they orchestrate a child's team (therapists, pediatricians, educators, family, friends). Everyone involved is on the same page.
5. Love. There is nothing but pure love in the eyes of a parent and child, both who are experiencing Down Syndrome in different ways. Their love for each other does overcome the most difficult situations.
Not surprisingly, the five lessons I have learned are exactly what every kid needs. Just because kid with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome, that doesn't mean their parents need different parenting skills than other parents.
All of our children need the same things from us. They need tuned-in, present, engaged parents who are willing to love through the most difficult times and laugh through the silliest ones.
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Parents who are willing to communicate, be flexible, and create a safe team around a child will help a child feel positive about him/herself.
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