Ten things not to say to a parent of a child with Down syndrome
The National Down Syndrome Society explains that a time of uncertainty and pain often ensues for parents after a child’s diagnosis of Down syndrome. Basic education about Down syndrome will diminish unsavory interactions for new parents and produce greater support.
Ten things not to say to parents:
10. “You must be saints.”
Parents of kids with disabilities are typical. They do well one day and fail the next. They do not want to be on a pedestal.
9. “People with Down syndrome are always happy.” According to the National Association for Down syndrome the most important fact to know about individuals with Down syndrome is that they are more like others than they are different. No one is happy all the time.
8. “Is it because of your age?”
Statistics point to more moms having children with Down syndrome under the age of thirty-five because women are starting families at a younger age.
7. “Maybe the child will grow out of it.”
Down syndrome is a genetic condition. It is not a disease or a sickness. Interventions and medical care help individuals with Down syndrome live full lives.
6. “Will you have more children?”
New parents are acclimating to a diagnosis. Don’t hurl them into the future with personal questions.
5. “Is he/she high functioning?”
Individuals with Down syndrome have strengths and weaknesses like everyone else. It is unrealistic and unfair to put people in boxes of functionality, especially as newborns.
4. “She does not look like she has Down syndrome. Are you sure?”
Results of Down syndrome are absolute through a simple blood test. Babies with Down syndrome are babies first.
3. “Did you know ahead of time?”
Pre-screening is a hot topic with Down syndrome. According to the National Association for Down Syndrome, ‘Two types of procedures are available to pregnant women: screening tests and diagnostic tests. The screening tests estimate the risk of the baby having Down syndrome. Diagnostic tests tell whether or not the baby actually has Down syndrome.’ Educated decisions regarding pre-screening is vital but also personal.
2. “It could be worse.”
Processing a new diagnosis is valid. Award parents time to adjust to a different kind of normal for their family with love and support.
1. ‘I’m sorry’ or any statements of pity.
A child has not died. Condolences aren’t necessary. New parents want to experience the excitement that comes with having a baby. ‘Congratulations’ is an appropriate response.
This post was first published years ago at Examiner.com