What everyone should know about children with Down syndrome

In anticipation of the Seventh Annual Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk & Family Festival in Forsyth Park on Oct. 6, we asked local parents of children with Down syndrome what the general public needs to know about the condition.

You can read many of their responses in my Savannah Morning News column by clicking here. Unfortunately, not all the helpful responses made it into the article. So below are some additional responses from two strong Savannah advocates for children with Down syndrome.

Pediatrician Ben Spitalnick of Pediatric Associates of Savannah

Dr. Ben Spitalnick of Pediatric Associates of Savannah is the pediatrician for many local children with Down syndrome. Dr. Ben is also a Board Member of the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society. He shared the following tips for what everyone should know about children with Down syndrome:

1) Virtually all of a child’s medical complications from Down syndrome can be handled by the medical community right here in Savannah

2) Children with Down syndrome do better when included in mainstream situations such as classrooms, not when isolated with only special needs children

3) Most children with Down syndrome have talents and skills people don’t expect, so consider the term “differently-abled” (I like diff-abled) instead of “disabled”.

4) Down syndrome can occur in any family, regardless of health and age of the parent. There are more children with Down syndrome born to younger parents than older parents.

5) Virtually all of the care your baby will need the first year, is routine newborn baby care. Concentrate on being a parent and family with a new baby, not on the features of Down syndrome.

Candy Bogardus, President of Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society

Candy Bogardus has three children with her husband, John, including their daughter, Lainey, 7, who has Down syndrome. Candy shared the following tips for what everyone should know about children with Down syndrome:

1. Embrace the adventure that comes with having a child with Down syndrome. There is never a dull moment, and they will always teach you something!!

2. Early Intervention is key. Lainey was in Speech Therapy through Babies Can’t Wait at 8 weeks of age. Those early visits made a phenomenal difference in her oral motor development.

3. Enjoy each and every milestone to the fullest–no matter when they reach it!! Don’t rush it!

4. Remember that ALL children have special needs!!

5. The parents of children with Down syndrome don’t place limits on them so why should anyone else! The sky’s the limit! Just let them be like everybody else and they will surprise you!!

6. Inclusion in all aspects of school, community, and life is very important. They will make a difference in every life they touch!

7. Even though you feel like all you do is go to therapy, the short term and long term benefits are well worth it!

8. Never be afraid to ask questions! Join a family support group- it’s a great way for you to learn from other parents and for your child to learn from other children!

9. Every child is fearfully and wonderfully made by God for His purpose!! God does not make mistakes!

2012 Buddy Walk
Saturday, October 6, 2012, in Forsyth Park
Savannah’s Paula Deen will be the Grand Marshal leading walk participants in the 1-mile fundraising event. The Buddy Walk Program welcomes participants of all ages and abilities. Bring your carriage, strollers, wheelchairs, little red wagons and pets.
Contact: 912-728-8505 (John or Candy Bogardus)
Register online here or the day of the walk.
Registration on Buddy Walk day begins at 8:30 AM
Opening Ceremonies begin at 10 AM
Walk begins at 10:30 AM
Free Family Festival in Forsyth Park from 11 AM – 2 PM

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