Q. My daughter aged 2 years was diagnosed with Down syndrome. We as a family have been feeling stressed in our journey to give her a good quality life. What can we do to feel less stressed while we work with our child?
KU: As a common person we look for the following physical features to confirm a Down Syndrome, along with a pre-natal blood test. In case one is sure of the child being differently abled, then remain calm, balanced, and peaceful, don’t let your anxiety get transferred to your child or to the family. The commonly seen physical features which are visible and as parents one should be familiar with are:
- A flattened face, especially the bridge of the nose.
- Almond-shaped eyes that slant upwards.
- Short neck.
- Small ears.
- Tongue that tends to stick out of the mouth.
- Tiny white spots on the iris (colored part) of the eye.
- Small hands and feet.
- A single line across the palm of the hand (palmar crease)
Down syndrome may have many effects, and it is different for each person. Some grow up to live quite an independent life and manage almost entirely on their own, while others will need more help to take care of themselves. They will learn and pick up new skills their whole lives. However, they may take longer to reach important goals like talking, walking, and developing social skills and you must accept this fact.
Mental abilities vary, but most people with Down syndrome have mild to moderate issues with reasoning, thinking, and understanding.
Down syndrome is a result of abnormal cell division involving chromosome 21 occurs. These cell division abnormalities result in an extra chromosome 21. This extra genetic material is responsible for the characteristic features and developmental problems associated with down syndrome.
Babies with Down syndrome may be born with other associated physical problems, and they’re at higher risk for certain health issues.
Every family has their stresses and challenges to deal with, but when you have a child with Down syndrome, things look a little different. Besides juggling schools, music lessons, sports, and jobs, a parent has a lot of extra visits with doctors and therapists.
That makes it even more important to accept help, and to pay attention to your own needs.
- Build a support system. Invite your friends and family to take part in the caregiving process.
This will help you have a little time to yourself. You can choose to go for a walk, read a book,
or just zone out for a while. Even a small break, can help you be a better parent and a better
- Talk about your challenges. People want to help, but don’t always know when you need
help and how they can assist. A simple and honest conversation like, “It’s hard to get a
healthy dinner on the table these days with all these appointments lined up” opens a door
and gives them ideas of what they can do.
- Keep a list of things you need. Next time someone says, “Let me know how I can help” you
will be better prepared as you will have the list of tasks handy.
- Find time for friends. Even if it’s just for a short while after the kids go to bed, friends can
help you laugh and recharge after a long and hectic week.
- Go easy on yourself. Everyone needs a break. You may want to consider seeing a therapist.
They can help you work through your feelings and give you tips and tools to handle stress in
your everyday life.
- Don’t try to be perfect. While you must put in your best efforts, you do not need to be perfect. Do not punish yourself for any steps that do not give the desired results.
- Take care of your health. Exercise and eat well. Try to plan and stick to it as best you can.
Student counsellor and has expertise in teaching psychology, career counselling, stress management and gender issues. Kavita is also an expert practitioner in marital counselling, life skills, interaction with community, research and tool construction.
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