Congratulations on the birth of your new grandchild! Listed below are a few ideas of ways in which you can support your family and their new baby:
Resist the temptation to feel guilty that your grandchild has Down syndrome – or to blame anyone else in the family. It is nobody’s fault.
Beyond any specific health concerns which may be present, your new grandchild needs just the same as any other baby at this point: love, acceptance and stimulation. A baby with Down syndrome is much more like all other babies than he/she is different from them.
Obtain and read accurate and up-to-date information about Down syndrome, so that you can help the new parents to learn and answer questions, and to explain the diagnosis to others.
Develop and maintain a positive and realistic outlook – offer your help and understanding and support the family in their decisions in regard to their child.
Remember that your responsibility is to support the family, and not the other way around, so make sure you find appropriate support for you somewhere else.
Your new grandchild may be using some support services, including early intervention services, to encourage reaching developmental milestones. Ask about the early intervention sessions the family is attending and get demonstrations of any exercises currently in use – you can join in too!
Offer to make calls to service agencies that can assist the child and family.
Offer to accompany the parents on their first few visits to service agencies.
As much as you can, treat this new child just as you would any other grandchild – try not to make allowances, especially in social behaviour and good manners, with regard to the disability. Some skills may take longer to learn than for your other grandchildren – and that’s OK!