Positive Attitude is Key

Positive adult attitude is the key for accepting Down Syndrome kids
by Jodie Lynn

Our 6-year-old son who has Down Syndrome, is included in a regular kindergarten class at school. He also goes to a regular Sunday school class at church, the community soccer league and is involved in the YMCA T-ball program.

The other children in his classes accept him as one of them. It's the adults who have the problem. They were raised to believe the general perception: that people with Down Syndrome could not do much and should be isolated.

We are now learning that people with Down Syndrome can accomplish a lot, especially when put in situations with "typical" children. The younger they are introduced to each other, the better.

My advice is to involve your daughter in activities where her "typical" peers are involved. Help the adult in charge by giving information that would be helpful. Stay close at first to help the others understand the best ways to interact with your child in an activity.

Then slowly back away to encourage others to step in. Kids love helping kids. Talk to the other children, making friends with them yourself. Talk about how your daughter is more like them than different. Tell them she learns things at a slower pace. The National Down Syndrome Congress is a wonderful resource. Call 800-232-NDSC or visit their web site www.ndsccenter.org for more details
- Kathy Johnson in Lakeland, Florida

We have a 2-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome. I always wonder the same thing for her. Are the children accepting her? My personal feelings on this topic is to just let your daughter be herself. Invite other children over to play. It is usually the parents who will first need to be educated on this disability. Down Syndrome children and adults, are different, but still need love, joy and fun. After others get to know her, they will treat her just like other children. - Judy Dodge in O'Fallon, MO

Children and adults are scared of Down Syndrome people. The public is out of sync when it comes to who they are and what they can do. They are a little slow and may look a little different, but still have feelings and need friends too. Take your daughter out into the public and keep your attitude positive. Insert a remark or two about the condition anytime you get the chance. This will help to diminish any false myths. - R. A. in Fort Wayne, IN

From Jodie: One of the most important things to do for your daughter is to keep your attitude "in-check" and to know all about the disability yourself. For the average person, including children, Down Syndrome is one of the disabilities that society has dubbed as an unjustified mystery. Equip yourself with the ability to answer questions from adults and children in a tasteful and caring way.

While growing up, one of my best friends had a brother with Down Syndrome. He often got scared when others pointed and yelled at him. His Mom wanted to protect him and usually kept him out of the public's eye. A few years later, I learned from his Mom that after she and her husband accepted the disability and learned more about it themselves, they saw him in a different light. There were six kids in the family and each one now knew exactly what Down Syndrome was all about. After the family's attitude changed, so did the son's. This young boy turned out to be a joy for the whole family and always had a smile on his face.

Stay positive with your daughter, and her friends. Create normal play environments. If someone says they want to go home or stop playing, don't become upset. A little play here and there will create longer happier friendships in the end.

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