A 2011 study in the American Journal of Medical Genetics found that self-reported happiness among those with Down syndrome was at a staggering 99 percent. The same survey found 79% of parents felt their outlook on life was more positive because of their son/daughter with Down syndrome. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Gratitude serves as a catalyst for a happier disposition.
In a world where nothing is simple, I promise this to be true…we have more opportunities for expressing gratitude when raising children with Down syndrome. We take nothing for granted and shout our child’s worth in a society that doesn’t always embrace inclusivity. Through the process, we find gratitude from things big and small. Perhaps you’re in the potty-training phase or on your third therapy visit for the week and you hear “Mama” for the first time. We witness the perseverance our children have while learning a skill that may come easier to others. When they meet their goals, we celebrate their accomplishments.
We also have the opportunity to belong to a community of others who share this propensity for gratitude. My heart swells when I see another family that looks like mine at HEB and we instantly connect! We have a thriving, local organization that advocates for individuals with Down syndrome, and we get many opportunities throughout the year to celebrate with each other, hold newest infant members, or share some conversations and coffee with wise, experienced parents.
Gratitude is found on that extra chromosome.
Hold on to hopes, dreams, and the daily nudges to notice the miracles of life with a person with Down syndrome. As we all know, we are the lucky few!