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This is Down Syndrome

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I became a special needs mom on June 23, 2010. With no family history and no warning signs, my daughter Molly was born with Down syndrome. To say that it came as a complete surprise would be an understatement.

My knowledge of the disorder was extremely limited and the days following her arrival were filled with fear, tears and many doctor appointments. It’s a numbing feeling to hold your newborn child and have a doctor tell you that she may never walk, talk or even feed herself.

Many children born with Down syndrome have heart defects, however the EKG and other tests showed no abnormalities with Molly‘s heart. Research shows that a healthy 31-year old mother has a 1 in 900 chance of having a child with Down syndrome… and I was chosen as “the one”. When doctors continually prepare you for the worst… it’s hard to see the sunshine.

In the months that followed, the sunshine arrived. It was like a light bulb went off one morning. I could choose to feel sorry for my daughter or I could stand tall and provide a fantastic life for her – the life of a typical child.

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And that’s exactly what we’ve done. Molly attends a typical preschool, she follows the same rules as her older sister and she gets no special treatment. Just because she has an extra chromosome doesn’t mean she gets treated any differently.

In my house *every day* is World Down Syndrome Day. We don’t let it consume us – just like breathing and eating, Down syndrome is our part of our family. And it just so happens our family has something a little extra – a chromosome.

At three years old, the child who wasn’t given much hope in the beginning has turned into a silly and beautiful little girl. She’s reached so many milestones since she was born – she’s determined and stubborn too, just like any typical toddler.

Having a child with Down syndrome (or any disability, for that matter) shouldn’t be seen as a hindrance – just a minor bump in the road. Don’t feel sorry for those of us with children that have special needs… and especially don’t feel bad for the child!

The world of Down syndrome is scary at times, but it’s also one of great joy. And I couldn’t be more proud of my daughter.

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For more information and resources on Down syndrome, Carrie recommends the National Down Syndrome Society as a starting point. We also suggest visiting the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the National Down Syndrome Congress– each offers information on medical research, advocacy and life stories.

Carrie McLaren, a native of Jacksonville, Florida is a former travel public relations professional turned freelance writer and influencer. She’s mom to Maggie, age five and three-year-old Molly. You can follow her adventures online at Carrie with Children and on Twitter at @CarrieWChildren.

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