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With today marking the 11th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day, it is only befitting to encourage any parent who is raising a child with Down Syndrome. Finding out your child has Down syndrome can be very discouraging, but today there are many uplifting parenting resources for children with Down syndrome. Awareness and advocacy continue to spread making help easier to find. Here are a few resources to get you started on things that you can do in the home for your child and where you can turn when you need help.
Children with Down syndrome learn as other children do. However, they learn in their own way and at their own pace. Since a delay in cognitive and physical abilities for children with Down syndrome can vary from mild to moderate, there are a variety of educational resources that can be used to benefit their learning.
- Handwriting Without Tears is a curriculum program that makes handwriting easy to teach and learn for kids. This program is very interactive and comes with a set of manipulatives to help children learn to write. If your child’s school does not provide this program, it is a great curriculum to use at home.
- See and Learn is a program that helps children with Down syndrome work on speech, memory, early learning, and reading skills. They provide practical and developmentally appropriate learning activities tailored to your child’s individual needs. This program was developed by Down Syndrome Education International, a UK based charity.
- Teaching Math to People With Down Syndrome and Other Hands-On Learners: Basic Survival Skills Book 1 is written by a teacher who helps parents apply math skills to everyday life. These tools can be very useful as many parents find teaching math difficult. There is also a Book 2 for when you are ready for more advanced math skills.
- Fine Motor Skills for Children With Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents And Professionals is a resource that helps children master daily skills for school, home, and the future. The author provides many strategies to implement fine motor skills in your home. A resource for fine motor skills is very important as many children with Down syndrome display a delay in motor skills.
- Gross Motor Skills for Children With Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals is another motor skills resource but focuses on gross motor skills for children with Down syndrome. Children with Down syndrome can have issues with balance, hypotonia, and lax ligaments with can impair their gross motor skills. This resource will provide you with strategies that you can use in and out of the home.
- Early Communication Skills for Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals helps parents to encourage and support their child’s language and speech development from birth to age 6. Children with Down syndrome often show a delay in expressive language skills. This book will provide language strategies for your child and comes with an online component with a variety of forms to use for planning, IEP development, and organizing information.
- In addition, to these programs and books, check out your local dollar store, Walmart, and Target! There are a variety of workbooks that will help your child with handwriting, shapes, colors, letter recognition, and more.
Increasing cognitive development is very important for children with Down syndrome. As they grow older, they will need help with processing information, reasoning, remembering and expressing their emotions. To help babies with Down syndrome with mild to moderate cognitive and physical delays, it is great to have toys around that aide in their development. Having appropriate developmental toys will increase their cognitive skills, gross and fine motor skills, and social and emotional skills. Here are few toys to begin with when they are babies and toddlers.
- Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball has bright patterns and colors to keep a child’s engagement. It is soft and easy to grasp, which is great for improving a child with Down syndrome’s fine motor skills.
- Sassy Floor Mirror engages baby developing vision. It has an easel back that supports the mirror on the floor making it appropriate for floor play. Mirrors are great for promoting social and emotional development. Since babies with Down syndrome are generally social babies, this mirror will add to their non-verbal social skills.
- VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube is a toy that I highly recommend (my son loves this). This learning toy has 5 sides that encourage exploration, combining sensory activities and fun sounds. It also has 25 playful songs and melodies to keep your child happy and entertained.
- Fun and Function LLC is a company founded by therapists that provides a variety of toys for cognitive development, motor delays, and sensory issues. They also have educational toys and games, clothing and products to meet your child’s cognitive, social and emotional, and sensory needs.
It is great to have educational resources for your child, but as a parent of a child with Down syndrome you need support too! It is important to stay encourage and read books and articles that keep you motivated and uplifted. Here are a few books to add to your reading list.
- In Uncomplicated Life, An: A Father’s Memoir of His Exceptional Daughter, a father shares an inspiring story of his daughter with Down syndrome, from childhood to adulthood. It includes funny anecdotes as well as triumphant stories of his daughter’s encouraging journey.
- Down Syndrome Parenting 101: Must-Have Advice for Making Your Life Easier is a must have resource of parents or caregivers of children with Down syndrome. It is written from a parents perspective and includes advice, experiences and important issues related to raising a child with Down syndrome.
- 321 Down Street (Volume 1) is a beautiful and uplifting story of the highs and lows of a parents’ journey as they find out their child has Down syndrome. This book gives a real perspective of what parents go through and how they make it through the tough times.
- Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parents’ Guide is a resource for new parents of a baby with Down syndrome. It provides a variety of information to help parents with caring for their child, such as daily care, medical concerns, early intervention, legal issues, and learning and development.
As people become more aware of Down syndrome, advocacy continues to increase. As a result, there are more and more organizations promoting awareness, providing parents with resources, and advocating acceptance for people with Down syndrome. Here are a few organizations that you need to know about.
- National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) advocates for those individuals living with Down syndrome. They provide the latest information in Down syndrome research, help raise funds for Down syndrome research and provide a list of support groups in your area.
- National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) offers support for new caretakers for individuals with Down syndrome. They also provide mentoring programs, work experience programs, parent support groups, and parent workshops for families in the Chicago area. Their website contains valuable information and helpful links related to Down syndrome.
- CDC Down Syndrome provides an overview of pertinent facts about Down syndrome and a growth chart for children with this diagnosis. They also list links for other research on this topic.
- National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) is an organization and support group for individuals affected by Down syndrome. This organization advocates for individuals with this disorder as well as their family members. They offer useful information and advice with healthcare, education, disability awareness and speech-related resources.
- Association for Children with Down syndrome (ACDS) is an educational facility located in Plainview, New York. They serve individuals with developmental disabilities in three separate programs: early childhood – up to age 5, 5 years old and older, and adult years.
- International Mosaic Down Syndrome Society (IMDSS) is an organization for those who have been diagnosed with mosaic Down syndrome. You can utilize this website to find current research, connect with medical professionals, and interact with other parents with children with mosaic Down syndrome.
In addition to the above organizations, the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) provides a list of support and advocacy groups by state. This is a great resource if you are looking for a group in your area.
Social media has a major presence in our society today, since most people have at least one social media account. Being a part of social media can help you connect with other parents and find support and resources for your child in your area. Here are a few popular Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, and Pinterest boards to keep up with.
Things You Can Do At Home
- Focus on early intervention. Early intervention is very important for children with special needs. It not only helps children meet developmental milestones, but it also gives parents knowledge on what they can do for their child’s development. If you want to know more on the importance of early intervention, read this post.
- Stay active. Keep your child involved in activities in and outside the home. This not only helps with development, but it also promotes social and emotional skills.
- Eat healthy. One of the main medical issues with children with Down syndrome is obesity. Make sure that they eat real food, while limiting sugar and processed foods.
- Set high expectations. No matter their ability or disability, keep encouraging your child. Set high expectations and they will go far in their future.
I hope these resources encourage you as you continue on you journey as a parent of a child with Down syndrome. Just because your child may have some differences or challenges does not mean that their life will be limited. Utilize these resources, support groups, and books to help your child grow and have an independent future.
Do you have a child with Down Syndrome?