Mothering By the Seat of my Pants wrote the following comment:
"So many parents say Ds really isn't that big of deal, that our kids can do the same thing as everyone else--it just takes longer, etc. I want to believe that, but the truth is, when I look around, I see a lot people with Ds for whom this does not seem to be the case. Trying to be optimistic and realistic can be hard sometimes."
I think that what Chris has written here will ring true for any of us who have special needs children, especially with Down syndrome. I'd like to add a few comments.
Many times we, as parents, are faced with a public that doubts the ability of our children to do anything beyond the most basic level, if even that. We ourselves may have once viewed "those kids" in the same way. As our children grow, they surprise us, and those around us, with their abilities, accomplishments, perseverance, and sense of humor. We are often led to really think that our children can “do anything”. Indeed, we need to have confidence in our offspring’s ability to absorb new knowledge, and to learn to act on it.
Yet, and although I hate to say it, there are limits, in a practical world. Perhaps if we bombard our child 22 hours a day with enrichment opportunities, and push them to their fullest, they can accomplish more. But at what price?
I am NOT saying to not push and expect. However, let us ask ourselves a few questions:
1. Am I wrecking my relationships with other family members because I am involved in this child all of my waking hours?
2. Am I giving my child the message that he is only worthwhile if he is a star, an exceptional child?
3. Does my child have fun and friends in his life?
If you can answer all the above suitably, than you are OK. If not, you need to ask yourself if you can learn to love your child even though he is not perfect.
The fine line between “high expectations” and unrealistic ones is a very fine one. To find that line requires honesty. But it is essential to do so.
By all means, expect your child to achieve. But prepare your heart for the possibility that someday he will not learn certain things. Your job is to give your child the opportunities he needs to be independent, and happy in life. Your job is to help him learn. The results are not in your hands, but (at least in my belief) in G-d’s.