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Behavioral correction with developmentally challenged kids

Local mom says it all depends on the child

Is there a 'right way' to discipline kids with Downs?

POCATELLO, Idaho - October is National Downs Syndrome Awareness Month. And while there's still more to learn about the disease, when Cara Lish found out she was going have a baby with Downs, she worried not only if others would treat him differently, but if she should treat him differently than her daughter, Sophia.

"I found out when I was 20 weeks he had a congenital heart defect," Lish said.

And that led to her and her husband Jimmy finding out he had Downs Syndrome.

"People always say, 'oh that initial diagnosis is really scary, but you'll get over it.' But when you're in that moment, it's hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel."

But Lish said Downs Syndrome wasn't the only concern when Jamon was born. The main chambers of his heart hadn't fully developed and separated. But after surgery, she said he's just a normal three year old boy.

"He's not any different," Lish said. "He's going to do things at a slower pace than Sophia did, but other than that there's no absolutely no reason discipline should not be the same."

Lish took a course focusing on logic and love, where reasoning with your child on a higher level, as well as giving them options, makes them feel in control. She also said support groups really helped her. She says surrounding yourself with other parents in similar situations can help not only to get new ideas, but also to feel refreshed.

She said Jamon has a hard time at the dinner table, but she says she will put several spoons in front of him, so when he chooses that spoon, while he's doing something he doesn't like, he at least has a say.

She said he needs more reminding to stop negative behaviors than Sophia, but she said talking to him on an adult level helps.

"If I looked at you saying 'go to bed,' you'll be spiteful and say 'I don't want to go to bed," Lish said. "Even though he's still non-verbal, which is a huge communication barrier, giving him some sort of control seems to be helping a little bit in-" -at this point there was a scream from the next room- "-combating temper tantrums."

With a third child on the way, is she was prepared for another child, and possibly one with Downs Syndrome?

"No. I don't feel prepared at all, because every kid's different," she said. "It's funny because people tell me 'Oh, you're so lucky because Downs people are just so happy all the time.' Have you met my three year old? Because he's kind of a pill."

She said it all comes down to knowing your child.  A doctor can tell you what generalities to expect, but she said only a parent can tell how to help their child

So even with a special needs child, Lish said she and Jimmy constantly work to find out what works best, what doesn't work and what may work in the future. 

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