What’s special about Priti?
What’s special about Priti?
A heartwarming story about a child with Down’s syndrome
At lunch, she looks at the son of a family friend and tells him firmly that he must button up his shirt. Although being bare chested may seem fashionable, he must become a gentlemen.
Then she turns to her sister and tells her to eat up her salad because it’s nutritious and has a high vitamin, iron and mineral content.
Priti is special when she says these things because she is a Down’s child who, despite her handicap, has come to grips with the business of day to day living.
With the coming of a Down’s child, everything changes in the routine family life. The best possible start for a baby is realistic acceptance by the parents. Without this, there is a serious risk of rejection or overprotection which will further handicap his growth and development. Once there is acceptance in the hearts of parents, they will do all they can to meet the challenge of stimulating their child to his own peak performance.
Priti’s mother recalls the fateful day that she discovered her daughter was a Down’s child. When she was three months old, Priti had an attack of diarrhea. On doing a routine examination, the child specialist discovered that Priti was suffering from Down’s syndrome. To her mother, it seemed like it was the end of the world, and the very first emotion to surface was rejection. But then, stronger than rejection, pushing its way up was an intense desire to try and understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of her baby’s condition.
The struggle began. They went from one doctor to another. They all unanimously confirmed Priti’s condition but could give no practical advice on bringing up a Down’s child. Hope had gained a tenacious hold by now and Priti’s mother persevered. She tried to match her daughter’s development with that of other children of her age. She was infinitely patient, teaching Priti to crawl and then to walk. It was only later that she learnt that the first seven years or so, of a Down’s child are the best years of their lives for learning.
Although it is possible to train Down’s children even at a later age, it is in their first few years of life that they are the most responsive. They absorb faster and are easier to train because they love to mimic.
What is Down’s syndrome?
Down’s syndrome earlier called ‘mongolism’ Most pregnancies that begin with an
is a condition that affects at least 4% pregnancies. Unbalanced set of chromosomes end
in miscarriage shortly afterwards.
It is a congenial defect which results from a Advanced maternal age is directly
chromosomal imbalance in the baby. Related to the risk of Down’s
syndrome. The risk increases sharply
for a woman in the mid to late 30’s
who is contemplating pregnancy. So,
at 40, her risk will be of the order of
one in 40.
Chromosomes are tiny structures found in the For those come in the high risk
nucleus of every cell in the body. Ordinarily category of late pregnancies, an
there are 46 chromosomes or 23 pairs. In the amniocentesis is a must.
Down’s baby there are 47 chromosomes.
Usually, the 47th is a perfectly normal chromosome,
but the extra set of genes creates a fundamental genetic
imbalance. This imbalance in turn, causes alterations in
the growth and development of the Down’s child.
It is both important and reassuring than, to know Amniocentesis is a medical
that nothing that a mother-to-be does in the 9 months procedure by which a small
of pregnancy can cause Down’s syndrome. No amount of amniotic fluid is removed
medication, activity or emotional upheaval can lead from around a baby while it is still
to the baby being born with this condition. In the womb.
Down’s children are handicapped to
some extent in their mental development. Physically, because of their small starting eyes, flat noses and other physical characteristics they were once popularly called ‘mongoloid.’
By the time she was three, Priti was going to nursery school, just like any other child. She knew her ABC and some counting. When she was five years old, her sister Kiran was born. Priti would go regularly to the hospital to visit her mother and her new baby sister. One day she surprised her mother by telling her that she would like to exchange her sister for another baby in the nursery, because she was the most cranky baby there!
When her sister was brought home, Priti was her mother’s little helper. She would lay out all baby’s clothes in readiness for bath time. She knew there were two powder puffs for the baby – one for bath time and a separate one to be used when changing diapers.
As she grew older, Priti was exposed to more varied sources of information and entertainment. She read simple story books, watched movies with keen interest and was an avid TV watcher. It was from TV that she discovered smoking was dangerous and led to cancer. She resolved to make her father give up smoking. She asked him why he smoked. He said he smoked because he enjoyed it, just as she enjoyed eating raw onions! Priti’s mind was made up. So, she told her father she would give up eating onions if he stopped smoking. And she did give up onions for a few days till she realized that her father didn’t intend to stop smoking.
Priti has an acute memory which may be a result of the memory games her mother used to play with her. She would ‘hide’ objects in the house in front of Priti. The next day she would ask her to find them. Now, Priti remembers when she has to pass on telephone messages to others in the family.
She loves listening to the transistor. When the volume seems weak or the sound distorted, she knows it’s time to change the battery. If her favourite song is playing, Priti rushes to get her song book – she has a collection of song books – and sings along.
Priti loves to dress well and takes great pleasure in matching things and having the right accessories to her clothes. She decides what she will wear. When I visited her home, she was in turquoise pants and a cream blouse. In her hair she wore a matching cream band.
At home she shares the household chores with her sister. Between the two of them they have an agreement that whoever finishes a meal last, clears the table. So, when Priti feels lazy she finishes first – by foregoing an extra helping. She is definitely aware of her rights!
Priti enjoys swimming. At the pool she heads for the changing room, where she changes into her swimming costume unaided. Her clothes are kept carefully folded. After she has finished her swim, she changes by herself once again, and then is ready to go home.
Her mother has slowly and patiently taught Priti to embroider. On her own, she can execute designs in cross stitch.
Priti is 17 years old today. Her parents’ initial patience and persistence have paid rich dividends. Priti’s life is meaningful and in turn, she is the pride and joy of her family who have invested not just love and affection but unceasing energy in an effort to enrich the quality of her life. She is remarkably self sufficient in many practical ways and the most positive example for parents of other Down’s children.
Priti’s story is one of hope. What it says is that no parent should give up his Down’s child as lost case. Even if their child learns to dress and feed himself they have achieved something definite and from there they can only move forward. A Down’s child is bound to fumble and make a mess in the beginning, but then, to a lesser extent, so are other children. Be patient, he will learn slowly. He needs all your times and patience to bring him through this period. Most of all, just like every other child, a Down’s child needs to know that he is loved and cherished.
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