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What the Parents Of Kids With Down Syndrome Want You To Know

What the Parents Of Kids With Down Syndrome Want You To Know

Dear Stranger,

You may not realize it, but I see you watching my child. Your eyes are everywhere: at the playground, the school, and even in the grocery store. Your stare follows us, and I can even feel your thoughts. You’re wondering about my child, why he looks different, pitying us for our misfortune of having him, feeling sorry for the life my family is living – a life where my child has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Passing judgment is such an easy thing to do, but before you judge us, I want you to understand some things about my child.

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The first thing that I need you to understand is that neither myself nor my child have chosen the road of Down Syndrome. It is a difficult road full of intellectual and medical uncertainties, such as lower IQ, heart defects, deafness, and respiratory infections. But no mistakes were made during pregnancy to cause my child to have Down Syndrome. Sometimes things happen that you didn’t see coming. In my child’s DNA, one extra copy of chromosome 21 changed the entire life of my child. It’s that one extra copy that sets my child apart from yours, but please know he isn’t all that different.

It can be seen from the outside that my child has Down Syndrome – this is why you look at him when we pass you. But take a moment to understand what is behind his appearance. His eyes may be slanted, but he holds all of the world’s laughter and joy inside of them. His mouth may look small while his tongue seems too large, but his smile will completely warm your heart. And while his arms may not be very strong, the hugs that he freely gives with them are powerful enough to hold a person together.

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You may have a hard time understanding my child’s speech, and if you saw his test scores you might not be too impressed. And long after your child has stopped having temper-tantrums, my child may still be going through them. But we are lucky to have such wonderful supports from school and Down Syndrome organizations, with therapies and kind teachers that push my child to succeed. My child may not make the milestones that yours does – but his are just as amazing.

Because my child has Down Syndrome, he is not going to be like yours. But in life, no two people are ever walking down the same path. Everyone has their own journey, and this journey is mine to take with my child. There is no doubt that the road ahead will be full of obstacles for us both. In a world made for everyone who is “normal,” it is not easy to fit in when you are so extraordinary. There will be times ahead of us that are filled with frustrations, and tears, as we are continually reminded of the differences between the “normal” world and our child. On these day we remind ourselves that our child is a gift, and no matter how difficult it may seem – he will change the world.

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So next time you see us in the mall, or the restaurant, or taking a walk on a sunny day, please don’t feel sorry for us, thinking about the life that he is destined to miss out on. Instead think of the life full of wonder that he experiences every day. Try to understand how special he is, and how luck we feel to have him. Though his heart may have defects on the outside, the inside of his heart is full of kindness and caring that he loves to give to the world. Share a smile with him, and I promise you won’t be disappointed at how quickly he will make your day.

Sincerely,
A Very Thankful Parent

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Featured photo credit: Rebecca Wilson via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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