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How to talk to your kids about Down syndrome

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

Many of us know someone who was born with Down syndrome and many of us don’t. Either way, it’s only a matter of time before you meet someone at the playground, church, or school who has this diagnosis and your child will likely have questions. My son, Finn, has Down syndrome, and I have noticed that kids who maybe have never met someone with Down syndrome before will scrunch their faces up in confusion and stare at him, trying to figure out what’s different. Introducing our kids to Down syndrome before they meet someone with this diagnosis will empower them to initiate friendship rather than giving a confused stare.

Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder. Most people have 46 chromosomes. When I explain chromosomes to kids, I tell them that chromosomes are the puzzle pieces that make you you. They determine what color eyes you have, whether your hair will be curly or straight, and even some of the foods you will like or dislike. Most chromosomes come in pairs, but people with Down syndrome have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome (so while most people have 2 copies of the 21st chromosome, people with Down syndrome have 3). This extra “puzzle piece” means people with Down syndrome will look, grow, and learn a little bit different than most other people.

Here are some differences associated with Down syndrome. The most recognizable physical differences in people with Down syndrome are their almond shaped eyes and their flat nose bridge. People with Down syndrome are also often much smaller than their peers who don’t have Down syndrome. Many people who have Down syndrome have hearts that grew differently than most hearts. Sometimes they form with a hole inside and require surgery to fix the hole. People with Down syndrome often take longer to learn to talk and walk than people without Down syndrome.

Even though there are some differences, people with Down syndrome usually desire to belong and be a friend. They usually love to play, learn, and meet new friends!

Big idea: Some people are born with Down syndrome.

Recommended Reading:

  • Hannah’s Down Syndrome Super Powers by Lori Leigh Yarborough- This is the most comprehensive children’s book about Down syndrome. It goes into great detail about how Down syndrome might affect someone. The information is presented in a very kid-friendly way! You can purchase this book here OR watch the read aloud version on YouTube here.

  • This Is Ella by Krista Ewert- This book is about a girl named Ella who has Down syndrome. It helps children see the things they have in common with Ella and shows them how they can be friends with people who have Down syndrome. You can purchase this book here OR watch the read aloud version on YouTube here.

  • Image Bearer by Ellie Sanazaro- This is my children’s book that teaches about disability through a biblical lens. It features 4 illustrations inspired by kids who have Down syndrome and shows how people with Down syndrome might use feeding tubes, hearing aids, or mobility devices. You can get 20% off now when you use the code INCLUSIONROCKS. Order here.

Discussion Questions:

  • What makes people with Down syndrome unique? (They have 47 chromosomes instead of 46, they have almond shaped eyes, they have a flat nose bridge, they might take longer to learn new things)

  • How are people with Down syndrome similar to you? (They go to school, they like to make friends, they like to play and learn, they were created by God)

  • How could you be a friend to someone who has Down syndrome?

Accounts to Follow:

  • @myincredibleivy- Ivy is a 3 year old girl who was born with Down syndrome. She uses a feeding tube to eat and drink. She inspired an illustration in “Image Bearer.”

  • @mr.finncredible- Finn is my son and inspired me to write “Image Bearer.” He is 1 year old and has Down syndrome. He also uses a special hearing aid called a BAHA.

  • This is an account that features people with Down syndrome and their family members sharing about life experiences.

  • @everandmom- This is an account that shares about a girl named Ever who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.

For a limited time, you can get 20% off “Image Bearer” at with the discount code INCLUSIONROCKS! This is the first time we’ve ever done a sale this big, so don’t miss your chance to get “Image Bearer” at a great price! Offer ends Friday, 7/30.

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