Thursday, October 15, 2009

PSA - What to say.

I guess I should balance my "What not to say" post with one about what TO say, particularly to a new parent of a child with Down Syndrome. This can be a minefield! It may or may not be a frightening time for the new parents. They may or may not have had a prenatal diagnosis. There may or may not be additional health issues.

They may not be answering the phone! Seriously folks. I was so traumatized after Ralph was born that I would not talk to anyone for weeks. (It was mostly because he was so sick. Down Syndrome was the last of our worries at the time.) I can laugh about it now. No one had the opportunity to say the wrong thing to me because I wasn't talking to anyone.

This minefield is really easier to navigate than you might think. Isn't he cute?

Here is what you could say:

Congratulations! Appropriate for any new parent. Often accompanied by a gift!

Wow! He is really beautiful! You can substitute pretty, handsome, cute, or groovy.

Can I hold him? You won't regret this. Babies with DS are so soft! (Please always ask before you grab or touch a baby or child with DS. Germ-o-phobes like me will appreciate you.)

What could you say to a parent of an older child with Down Syndrome? What would you say to any other parent of a typical child? It's usually safe to ask questions. Ask about their interests. Ask about school. Invite them over. Set up a play date with your children and theirs. Offer to babysit.

Parents of a child with Down Syndrome often find themselves becoming socially isolated. Your invitation or offer will reassure them that their child is accepted and respected. That's a treasured gift.


Monica Crumley said...

Some great ideas and tips here. I'm always moved when people ask to hold John Michael and especially when he eagerly goes to them. He loves our young priest who takes him every Sunday after church and shows him off to whoever is around proudly saying... "I baptized this baby." That was so affirming for me early on.

Regina said...

Very good advice! I sometimes feel a little socially isolated because we don't take Jayden around very many people for fear of him getting sick.

therextras said...

VERY cute!

And excellent suggestions!