Forum: Glad I didn't listen to doc's advice and kept my son with Down syndrome

The writer with her son Daniel, seen here celebrating his third birthday. With them are his father Jason, and older brother David.

I refer to the article, "Down syndrome's continuing ethical and legal tests" (April 30), written by Professor Chong Siow Ann.

I am mother to a three-year-old son who has Down syndrome.

During the first trimester of my pregnancy, I was told by my gynaecologist that there was a very high chance of my baby having a chromosomal abnormality.

He told me all the challenges that my child would potentially have and strongly recommended that I consider aborting my baby.

My husband and I were devastated but we decided we would keep our baby regardless of his condition.

Three years into my journey of parenting a child with Down syndrome, I want to say that I am so glad that I did not terminate the pregnancy. My son Daniel has brought unspeakable joy to my entire family.

Yes, Daniel has learning issues and has required early intervention such as weekly speech or occupational therapy or physiotherapy since he was a baby.

Raising a child with special needs is indeed challenging.

However, it is deeply fulfilling to see Daniel thriving and hitting his milestones despite his diagnosis.

Daniel is slow in learning but he is smart in his own way, and I do not see him any differently from other children, who all have unique learning paths.

Also, I have since learnt that there are so many people with Down syndrome who have gone on to achieve significant accomplishments. Take, for example, Mr Chris Nikic, an American who is the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon.

I shudder to think of how many babies like Daniel were aborted because of the unbalanced information on Down syndrome that doctors often relay to parents.

Rather than just focusing on the negatives and recommending abortion, perhaps doctors should also offer to connect parents with families that have a child with Down syndrome - people who really understand what it means to raise a child with Down syndrome.

This will help parents to make a more informed decision about whether they should keep their baby.

Doctors play a key role in shaping parents' understanding of a Down syndrome diagnosis, and it is time that the medical community in Singapore reviewed how such a diagnosis is delivered, such that parents are not left feeling fearful and helpless.

Koh Sui Tin

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