“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
By: Melissa Pope
My youngest daughter, Chloe, has Down syndrome. Just as every typical child has differing abilities and needs, so does every child with Down syndrome.
Before she was born we knew there was a chance our baby would have Down syndrome. We chose not to have further testing. I was already about 20 weeks along.
The moment I looked at her newborn face, I knew she had Down syndrome. As we told people her diagnosis, I could tell that some felt sorry for us. There were others that were truly encouraging. I think God used two previous miscarriages to prepare us to be thankful for His gifts.
As an infant Chloe was healthy and growing. As with any child, decisions need to be made about what is best for each child. There are a few extra decisions to be made about therapies and medical treatments for children with disabilities. Chloe started occupational, physical and speech therapies at about 5 weeks. We continue to make decisions about what is best for her one day at a time – just like we do with her two older sisters.
Every year at preschool pre-registration, I agonized about what to do – full time at the special needs preschool or part-time at the preschool her sisters had attended. In the end we kept her at the preschool for typical children as she had kept up with her goals for self-care.
She has started kindergarten and attends a typical class with an aide. She spends time in a self-contained classroom to work on reading and math. The educational process is a whole post unto itself! Just remember that you are your child’s number one advocate. Your questions should be answered to your satisfaction. Ask other parents of children with special needs what they experienced and how it worked for them. Make the best informed choice possible for your child.
I have always felt that we are the most blessed family to have Chloe with us. We get to see the world through our Creator’s eyes. Chloe has an amazing gift of encouragement. The first time I realized this was before she was a year old. Chloe reached out to be held by a gentleman while we were at church. She wrapped her soft arms around his neck and squeezed him with a hug that only a person with Down syndrome has. As tears came to his eyes, I recalled that only a few months earlier he and his wife had lost their adult daughter to cancer. He really needed that hug!
If you have a friend or relative who has a child with a disability, my advice is to remember that every child is a blessing. God gave us all unique gifts and abilities. We are made in His image! It’s ok to ask heartfelt questions.
Sadly, ninety percent of all pregnancies involving Down syndrome are ended by abortion. As a society we have to stop rating people by their ability to be “normal” and the amount of “stuff” they can produce in the work place. I often think people with mental or physical challenges like Chloe are the ones who are truly perfect and we “typical” people are the ones who are missing the point of life.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God He created them. Genesis 1:27
Related Article by Melissa Pope: People First Language