The right words can be hard to find. We live in a society where anything different, including Down syndrome, is seen as bad. People are afraid of what they don't understand, and frankly, many people don't understand Down syndrome and what those with DS are capable of in their lives. Many see hardship and tragedy. They assume the family is devastated.
Though this is an unexpected circumstance, those with DS live meaningful lives who give out so much love.
Every birth and new life should be celebrated despite any setbacks that may have occurred. Down syndrome isn't a death sentence and shouldn't be treated as such. This isn't a tragedy. The new parents are already experiencing so many emotions ranging from joy and love to confusion and sadness. So what should you say?
Congratulate the parents. Tell them their new baby is beautiful. Hold that baby and tell him/her they're perfect and loved. Stop by with a meal and with a listening ear. Ask what you can do to support. Sara Korber-DeWeerd who has a child with DS wrote a personal article for The Mighty that gave the best advice. She shared that using, "real words for real people who had welcomed a real child" is the most obvious solution for those struggling in this situation.
Down syndrome occurs when the 21st chromosome in the body makes three copies instead of two. The result is intellectual disabilities as well as physically defining features. The reality is that Down syndrome does bring some complications to life. People with down syndrome are more likely to be born with congenital heart disease and a higher risk of leukemia.
They have low muscle tone and will need early intervention services. But they can live happy lives with the support and love of their family.
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So what do you say to parents of a DS baby? Treat this baby as you would any other.