Perhaps if you have a younger child with Down syndrome you are wondering if they will have a social life as they get older. My kids keep a very full social calendar. The only difference between them and their typical peers is they need a designated driver and in most cases that’s me. Today Sam is part of his school culture. Every day this week has a different theme because it’s Homecoming Week. Yesterday was ‘College Day’ and today is ‘Dress like a Preppy’.Sam is not his usual bouncy self here because I took the picture at 6:30am before he got on the school bus. He rocks this outfit and wanted to wear his hat but no hats allowed at school………..This is how Sam looks most of the time with his hat firmly on his head.
Start now building a support system around your kids that include other children with disabilities and their moms. Meet frequently with these moms and kids. Every Monday for years April, Jake and Sam bowl with their friends on a Special Olympics team. I sit with 6 or 7 other mothers and one grandparent and we talk about, surprise, our children. We share resources we have learned about and social opportunities available for are teens and young adults. We are one big think tank. After bowling we all go to dinner together. Once a month we celebrate the birthdays of our tight-knit group. Last night we celebrated 3!Birthday girl in the middle is a sibling of one of the kid’s friends. I love the picture of Jake and his smile. The other 2 birthdays are parents because we like to celebrate too.
We moved to Cincinnati 7 years ago and I started building my support system as soon as we got settled. I was fortunate to meet a parent whose child also has Down syndrome. We met for breakfast and I copied down everything she told me about services and opportunities available for my kids. She is one of my closet friends and ally. I also joined the local Down syndrome parent support group. Soon we started participating in Special Olympics. I now have a great system in place but it took time to build. Because of that system I find out about the many things there are for my kids to do socially. If you haven’t already you need to start your own Think Tank. Hopefully you can hold it weekly over dinner.
If you live in the Cincinnati area you can get started here:
Yes, teens and young adults with Down syndrome can have a very active social life. It starts by building a support system not only around your child but around you. Reach out to another parent and share what you know and then ask them what they have found offered in your community. You’ll be amazed what you learn as you connect with other parents.
Coming up in our household:
Volley ball game at the high school
Ballroom dance class
Men’s Day out
Friday night football