A lot of people want to know how having a child with Down syndrome is different than having a typical child. For us right now, the answer is that it's really not that different. I should preface that by saying that we are so fortunate that Katie has zero health issues that are often coexistent with Ds. So really, the differences are very few.
She is still, at 5 years old, learning to speak. That is one obvious difference. However, her speech and general communication abilities are improving every single day. She goes to speech therapy three times a week, and the therapy has had a dramatic difference. Our family has no issues communicating with her, and her teacher has expressed the same. Katie makes it very known when she is happy, sad, excited, angry, frustrated - you name it!
Katie wasn't potty trained until after she had turned 5. That's an obvious difference, as all of our boys were trained by 3. I have no idea if Katie would have been trained earlier if she had always been in our family, as I know several people with children who have Ds and were not adopted who are potty training well into age 5. It wasn't a big deal for us, and she really almost trained herself. She was ready. She does still wear a diaper at night, because she doesn't stay dry all night yet. That will come!
She goes to a special education class this year. Katie is in a special ed Pre-K class and she has an IEP. However, her classroom is really just like a typical Pre-K classroom, it just has fewer students. Her teacher and her teacher's aide are fantastic. We are SO fortunate to have them this year. I love them, and it will be so difficult for us to have a new teacher next year! Katie absolutely loves school, and a large part of that is because of her teacher. I would love for K to be in a typical classroom next year for Kindergarten, so we're working hard toward that.
At school Katie gets speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. She also gets private speech and physical therapy throughout the week when she's not at school. I guess one difference in parenting a child with Ds is the number of therapies she needs, although we've been through that with another one of our children who doesn't have Ds!
At this point, there is really no difference for us. Now obviously as our children get older, go to college, and move out we will certainly see a difference. However, we are going to work hard to get Katie into a post-graduate program at Vanderbilt University and will teach her and encourage her to be as independent as possible. I fully expect Katie will have friends in school, go to football games, complain about homework, get a job, and all of the other things that *normal* kids do. Her normal will be what we make it, and I see no reason why that needs to be different than David, Henry, or Jack.