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Quick Wins

By Jess

It is well recognised that kids with Down Syndrome will have a learning disability and that their development may be slightly delayed. Within that, as within the population as a whole, the timescales for meeting milestones are as unique as the individuals themselves. The important thing to know is that most kids with Down Syndrome will hit their developmental milestones (some will even hit many at a similar time to a typically developing child - whatever that is) and can and will learn everything they need to. They may just take longer and will need additional support to get them there. Everything I have read about supporting communication and movement development for kids with Down Syndrome comes back to one clear and consistent message - start early! It even has it's own term 'Early Intervention.'

I will talk about this in far more detail in longer posts, but as a frazzled parent in the early postnatal days, a busy parent once your baby starts moving a bit more and you start your weaning journey, this set of posts are for you and for those times when you are trying to work out what you can do to give your baby the best start. I will share some quick and easy (and fun!) things to do with your baby that should make a real difference to them in the long run and instantly make you feel like you are totally on top of this parenting lark!

A lot of these activities are things we did with our first child, and we regularly curse ourselves for giving her all of the skills to run rings around us... She is 4 and is a very skilled negotiator and storyteller. I would say that if you are prepared to do these things frequently, repetitively and over a sustained period of time, the benefits will be huge.

In the first 6 months I really don't think most babies with Down Syndrome need anything more than a typical child of their age (unless of course they have additional health needs). What they are likely to need is the support for learning a particular task over a longer period of time with more frequent reminders. So be prepared to get very familiar with 'That's not my....' books! When they hit 6 months, at least for us, you may find that life gets a little busier as you introduce food, they start to engage in play more and you start to focus on their early development and a bit more. You may have more appointments to attend and might be thinking about applying for Disability Living Allowance.

I am not an expert in early years education or special educational needs, but I am committed to providing the best early years support to my children, so a lot of the things I do (and hope to share)are adapted from things professionals have said, discussions with my cousin (who is an expert in early years education) and other parents, things I have read, and following trial and error. I would say a lot of what I am doing is based in evidence but mostly, it just feels right and I hope that you might find something that sparks your imagination for activities to do with your little ones and ideas to make your life supporting your child more enjoyable and slightly simpler.