Unexpected Joys Part 1
Will’s adventures in life are pretty much like those of other six year old boys. He’s curious, packed with energy, likes super heroes, and takes pride in getting on the bus with his elementary school buddies. However, Will’s ability to be involved in all the things other kids his age are participating in is a bit more of a victory.
Will’s parents, Dawn and Glenn Downs, did not know Will had Down syndrome until he was born. They admit the first few years of Will’s life were sometimes frightening because of medical complications and accompanying surgeries, but life has taken on a different meaning for both of them. Looking back, they say if they had known Will would be born birth that he had Down syndrome they would not have chosen to end the pregnancy. The Downs are part of twenty percent of parents who choose to continue with their pregnancy despite a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Each year nearly five thousand babies are born with one extra chromosome resulting in Down syndrome. Like Will, many of these children are able to progress through life; enrolling in public school, community sports, and integrating into social networks. Dawn says he is experiencing life just like other kids his age, but it just takes Will a little bit longer. When her other kids learned how to write their name it was a great accomplishment, but when Will wrote his name for the first time Dawn says it was like he won a gold medal at the Olympics. She says raising a child with Down syndrome gives you a reason to celebrate the details in life, and that’s exciting.
There are 350 thousand families in the U.S. raising children with Down syndrome and for each family there is a network of resources ready to provide them with a support system. The push for academic and social inclusion for kids with Down syndrome has made significant progress over the last two decades and will continue to pave new paths for children and families experiencing the joys of Down syndrome.