Help Explaining down Syndrome to My 5 Year Old

Updated on November 25, 2006
K.M. asks from Easton, PA
10 answers

My son, Jeffrey, has a boy with Down Syndrome in his kindergarten class. Sometimes he tells me that Christopher (the boy) is silly. I have tried to explain that everyone is different and deserves to be treated with respect however he wants to understand what makes this boy different. I'm not sure how to explain DS to him. Could anyone who has a child with DS or someone whose children have friends with DS help?

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answers from Johnstown on

Hi K.. My Uncle was DS. DS people are just amazing people. It would be great for your child to get to know this DS child. I feel so blessed that I got to be around my uncle growing up. He taught me so much about how things that we overlook each day can really be amazing if you take a minute and think about it. I will never forget my Uncle. Unfortunately, he died at 42 from a heart attack. My family would just tell pple that DS are angels that are on Earth. They are here to make a positive
difference in the world. If you give them the time of day and don't look at them like they are the plague you can find out how great DS people are. Maybe you can even take him and volunteer locally with the special olympics or another DS organization to get him to see that all people are different, some more than others, but that doesn't make them bad. I think it would teach him to have a lot of compassion and understanding for others.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on


Before we moved we had a neighbor who was DS, and I have worked with many DS individuals in the past. We have also had neighbor friends who were autistic as well so this is how I put it to my children.

Everyone is special in some way. What makes someone special sometimes makes a person seem different or "silly". "Place name here" is special because he finds wonder and magic in simple things that you may take for granted. This does not mean he is different from you, it simply means he "specialness" is more obvious than some other people's. I went as far as telling my kids that these kids may need their help (my kids are big "helpers") and that's okay. My kids have already been taught not to pick on ANYONE because I told them how my childhood/teenage years were rough and how I felt when kids picked on me, and asked them if they would want me to feel like that again, and if they would want to feel that way themselves and of course they said no. My kids were very good with all the uniquness of our neighbor's and friends.

I hope this helps or makes sense to you. DS children are truly special. They are usually happier and do in fact find magic and wonder in simple things. I wish sometimes I could find that magic and wonder myself.

Good luck.


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answers from Dover on

Regarding children who have Downs Syndrome, or anything else for that matter, I tell my son: Everyone has a special need. Some peoples are more obvious than others. Your special need is... My special need is...

Since your son seems especially interested in what causes DS, I would explain the chromosome stuff as a puzzle. There is an extra piece. When the puzzle is done, it looks like every other puzzle, but it has a little something extra.

Good luck!



answers from Altoona on

We just had a child born with DS 18mths ago..He is truely a blessing and a special bundle of joy..He is #7 in our children range in age from 20 down to 10..We found that reading up on the subject before he was born and talking openly about this helped the kids to adjust to Aydens arrival..We also were told from the NICU nurses that the best thing we could do for him was to treat him like a normal child as best as possible..We would answer questions when asked and if we didnt have the answer we would find it and then tell the kids what they want to know..You might even try talking to the childs mother and setting up some play dates so they can become friends..I have found that most people I have met with children having DS are very open and happy to discuss things and would probably be glad to help you out explaining this..It will greatly enrich your childs life and yours to experience such unique friendship..feel free to email me if you have any other question..and I would also check into the DS info that was given by the other person on here..good luck



answers from Atlanta on

Hello K...first, let me say I applaud your effort to educte your son!! I suggest using literature to help him undertsand students w/ differences. Here are a few I would suggest!!

Carlisle,K.. (1994). The Special Raccoon: Helping a Child Learn about Handicaps and
Love. New Jersey :Small Horizons.( This is a book about a racoon with mult. disabilites..but teaches not to be afraid of those who are different..that it is important to ask questions rather than avoid someone)

Brown, Tricia. (1982) Someone Special Like you. New York: Henry Holt and Company,
Inc. ( This is a very simple picture book that stresses that we are all alike...a little dated though)


Hope these help!! You can also try to google books about downs syndrome to get books more specific to that disability.



answers from Scranton on

I agree w/ Sari's advice, which is to read your child a specialized children's book all about handicaps. I recommend going to the local library and having your son pick through some books on this topic. Let him pick out the book that most appeals to him. This way, he feels a part of the discussin to, and then read the book to him. I always think that reading makes children smarter, and what better way to "teach" him about special people than through a children's book. It will explain it in terms he will understand and use characters that will be memorable to your child. This way, when he meets another individual with special needs, your son will think I remember the book about (say for example) the bunny rabbit in the wheel chair. Then, maybe your son will have a better understanding and appreciation for people of all kinds:) Good luck, and remember to let him ask any questions he has...this is what helps them grow into fearless people!!



answers from Harrisburg on

I am not sure if this is what you are looking for, but here is my thoughts....Explain to him that as much as Christopher is different, he is the same. Tell your son that you understand that Christopher is a very special boy who needs your sons friendship. I dont know how to tell you to tell your son what DS is, so I have provided you with resorces....1-800-2214602 is the National DS Society, and 1-###-###-#### is Asscociation for children with DS



answers from Williamsport on

this is a more pronounced version of what your son will face in the future. He will meet kids who smell, who don't bath, who wear religious symbols on there heads, who are not the same color, language or athletic ability. as a parent you can teach him to look for the good things everyone has rather than make a snap judgement. Sounds like you are on the right path.
My mom always pointed out that I chewed my nails. She would tell me that people could look at my hands and think I'm a gross person. If they talk to me and listen and watch they would see I was a neat person (who chews his nails)
Just explain to you son by selecting a flaw he has. (In a uncruel way) Let him know that people can't just see one flaw or differance. They need to examine the whole person.
No I am not saying down syndrome is a flaw. I'm just letting you know how I think the best perspective is to make sense for your son.



answers from Philadelphia on

There is a movie called Educating Peter about a DS kid in school with reg ed kids. Ask your local library. It may be a little dry for your son but can help give you ideas. I thought it was an interesting movie.



answers from Lancaster on

Maybe the library has some kids books on DS

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