October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
What a precious GIFT from heaven these three are to our family!
We get asked so many questions about raising these most amazing blessings.
Are they always happy, as some believe?
Nope! Like all children, they have their good days and their tough days. They experience all of the normal emotions that any of our other children feel and go through.
Do they just love everyone?
Well, yes and no. For these three blessings, they generally do love most people and have very few social boundaries (which is something we are constantly working on). But, if they are hurt or rejected by someone, they definitely will shy away from those people. They know when they are loved and accepted, and they are fully aware when they are not.
Do all children who have Down syndrome function on the same level developmentally?
No! As with all children, those who have Down syndrome are so unique and so different–fearfully and wonderfully made just the way they are! Our children are so very different. Their capabilities are different. Their personalities are different. And they function on different levels in all areas of their lives. Parenting them right where they’re at and understanding each one uniquely is key to our parenting them. Learning how to help each child individually to become as independent as they can be is what we strive every day to do. Being mindful to not have unfair expectations has been such a lesson in parenting each one of these loves as God has grown our family over the years. It’s the same heart with which we parent all of our children.
Grace. So much grace on the journey for each new day.
Will they ever live fully independent lives?
Right now, Kael and Hailee will most probably be dependent on us for the rest of their lives. We’re praying that when the time comes, they will both have many opportunities in the disability community. Thankfully, our state has great opportunities that we will look into as they move through high school.
Harper on the other hand, is developmentally so much farther ahead of her siblings. Her language (receptive and expressive) is developing quickly. Our heart for her is that she becomes as independent in the community as possible for her. I have no doubt that Harper will be very integrated into a community and will some day, hopefully, go on to have some kind of a job that she will absolutely love doing. She is super social, learns new things all the time, and loves the adventures that each new day brings.
Are all children who have Down syndrome non-verbal?
Not at all! Hailee and Kael are both comepletely non-verbal, but Harper has a large vocabulary. Every child is different. Every child who has Down syndrome is different.
Is it particularly difficult parenting children who have Down syndrome?
For us personally, no! Like every child in our home, we have had to learn what their needs are, what their strengths are, where they struggle, where they do well, what makes them sad, what is a joy to them, and how to help each child to become the very best that they can be. Just like parenting all of our children, we go through seasons of behavior issues, sickness, new situations arising that we learn about, seasons of trials in school, and everything in between. As with parenting our other children, we need so much grace and wisdom as we navigate life with these three.
Do children who have Down syndrome always get sick?
No, they don’t. While children and adults with Down syndrome are at an increased risk for certain medical conditions such as congenital heart defects, respiratory conditions, and thyroid conditions, they generally do well. We do annual blood work to check that all of their levels are in a healthy range. Thankfully, none of our children have heart conditions. Advances in health care have enabled people who have Down syndrome to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives.
I am so thankful for the precious gift of these three children–each one created in the image of a God who never, ever makes mistakes.
He does all things well.