October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month! To celebrate we wanted to showcase this gorgeous little gal, Miss Teia. We feel that the best way to learn is through the stories and knowledge of others who experience life with Down Syndrome daily. We believe that they are the true experts! Teia’s mom Caschjen was kind enough share their story, what she’s learned, and what she’d like others to know.
1. Tell us about Miss Teia:
“Teia is our ray of sunshine. She lights up the room with her contagious smile and her sweet little laugh. She can spend hours in front of the mirror carrying on a conversation with herself and loves interacting with her siblings. She is an easy going one year old and by far the best baby ever. She is motivated and curious about the world around her. Singing time with mommy, eating, and family are her favorite things. “
2. You are a mother of 4! What has becoming a mom taught you?
“Being a mother has brought out the best of the best and the worst of the worst in me (in all the right life lesson kind of ways). It has shown me how hard life can get, but also in opposition, how wonderful and magnificent life is! Motherhood has shaped me into a strong, loving, understanding, tough, and patient woman. I’ve learned to live more in the moments and not let the little things bother me. Being a mother has been my greatest accomplishment.”
3. What are some things you have learned about Down Syndrome throughout this journey?
“I’ve learned that I knew very little about DS and about the people who have it. The things that come to mind are that their heart, eyes, and hearing can have issues, but not always. Their immune systems are a bit more fragile than most. Their features look a bit different and their muscles are lower tone which cause a lot of their speech, gross motor, and other muscular functions to be a bit weaker. They can have higher and lower functioning abilities. They can hold jobs, go to college, and even live on their own. None of that compares to what I’ve learned about the kind of love they share! Teia has taught me how to love more than I could before. She has opened up my heart to greater love for all people. The bond between a mother and a child with DS is like no other. It’s indescribable. I feel like though God has given me a gift.”
4. Are there any resources (books, websites, blogs) you’ve found particularly helpful that parents of children with DS or special needs (or maybe parents in general) would benefit from?
“I love following @nothingdownaboutit @theluckyfew on Instagram. There is such a great DS community on social media ready to answer questions, lift you up, cheer you on and include anyone and everyone! We also love Gigi’s playhouse. If you are fortunate enough to have a facility near you then I highly recommend taking advantage of their free services. The Parent’s Guide to Down Syndrome: Advice, Information, Inspiration, and Support for Raising Your Child from Diagnosis through Adulthood is the first book I read after having Teia. It was very informative and gave me answers to lots of questions.”
5. What are some of your (and Teia’s) favorite toys and activities that promote development?
“Something we used a lot for the first few months was a small wedge pillow. We stuck it under her belly and armpits to help facilitate tummy time and strengthen her upper body. I use simple baby sign language as often as possible to promote communication. Singing and reading books together is also great for promoting language and communication skills.”
6. What would you like others to know about DS?
“I want people to know that there is absolutely nothing down about DS. My family is better because of my daughter. I am better, because of my daughter. We are all happier because of Teia. DS is like the sparkle that the world needs. There is nothing to be afraid of. Fear comes from a lack of knowledge. If you don’t know someone with DS, I encourage you to make a new friend. I can guarantee they will give you the best hug in the world! “