Thursday, October 13, 2016

Day 13: What do I say?

Down Syndrome Awareness Month - Day 13

What do I say to someone who will be giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome?

What would you say to a mother who is pregnant? You'd say, "Congratulations!" Right? This is the same thing you say to someone who is expecting a baby with Down syndrome.

If you want to go into further detail, tell them how Down syndrome is not a death sentence and their child will teach them the true meaning of life, love, and happiness. That child will bring them immense joy.

Tell them to not be afraid. While it can be scary to receive a diagnosis that makes your child "different", it'll all be okay and there are support networks for families raising children with Down syndrome (more on support networks can be found in the day 8 post).

What do I say to someone whose baby was diagnosed with Down syndrome?

Again, you congratulate them.

You can ask:
- How's the baby's health? Down syndrome does come with health issues but Down syndrome itself is not a health issue.
- How are you? Not everyone wants to talk about their feelings but putting the question out there is appreciated (especially if it's sincere).
- The baby has your [insert feature here]. People with Down syndrome look more like their family than they do each other.
- Can I hold him? Pay attention to him, hold him, love on him. Treat him like you would any other baby.

What should I never, ever say?

Statements that convey or infer pity:
"I'm sorry."
"What a shame."
"How sad."
"Poor thing."
"It could be worse."

Questions such as:
"How severely is he affected?"
"Didn't you have the tests?"

Statements that imply that people with disabilities are a huge burden:
"I couldn't do it."
"I couldn't handle it."
"You're such a saint."

Stereotypical statements that are not helpful and untrue:
"They're such happy and loving children."

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