When I was first asked to care for a child with Down Syndrome, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what it would be like or what she would do.
I spoke to her mother on the phone. She had two children. The oldest had Down Syndrome and the younger daughter did not.
The first time I watched the girls, the father stayed with us the whole time. He told me about his daughter, explained how to care for her and other important aspects. Although I was surprised he chose to stay, I was happy to have the extra guidance.
When I started caring for Samantha, I was happy to find out there are a lot of similarities between her and other children. She loved playing games, coloring, and playing with paper dolls. Just like other children, she loved watching a DVD and she would watch it for at least a half hour at a time.
Some of the challenges were she did not always hear well. Therefore, I would sign to her. I was grateful to know some basic signs. Her sister was good at explaining things to her as well. Emily would explain the importance of a task and use gestures to get her sister to understand what was being requested.
If you are planning to watch a child with Down Syndrome, I recommend talking to the parents. They will have tips and advice on how to best care for their child. They know what the child likes and dislikes. Parents have tips on communication, bedtime routines, things that frighten them, activities they love and more. If you are watching any special needs child, the parent is your best asset. They will help you navigate.
If you are watching a Down Syndrome child, you will not likely be asked to do additional activities like doing the dishes or light cleaning. I wouldn’t quickly volunteer to do any extra activities either. The safety of the child will be your first priority. Until you get to know the child, focus on watching the child. Don’t bring books, homework or other activities unless you are staying past when he or she has gone to bed. Even if the child is older or watching a movie, you will likely discover that you will need your eyes free to watch him or her.
As a mother, I prefer my babysitters to always have their eyes free to watch my children. When I babysat a child with Down Syndrome, I found this to be even more important. If you think you will have time when the child is busy playing with a sibling, you could bring music to keep yourself entertained. Above all else, you will need your eyes.
After watching a child with Down Syndrome, I learned they are like any other child. It is fun to play board games with them, talk to them and watch them learn and discover their world. They love exploring and learning. With a few pieces of advice from the parents, you will find watching a child with Down Syndrome isn’t much different than watching any other child. They love to do the same activities other children do.
If you are offered a job watching a downs syndrome child, take it. You will find it a fun and enjoyable experience. Children with Down Syndrome are great kids!