Working with a Down Syndrome child

Posted by iChild, September 13, 2017 10:42 AM

By The Next Best Thing To Mummy

While I was working as a registered child minder I had the privilege of looking after a beautiful girl who had Down’s Syndrome.


Lily was four years old when her mum visited me to enquire about child minding. She told me that she would like me to treat her daughter exactly the same as I would any other child of that age. At the time I will admit to thinking, how can I do that and why would she ask that of me. With hindsight I now understand that Lily’s parents wanted her to be able to function in the real world. Not being treated differently, due to her disability, would help this aim.

I did treat her pretty much the same, except for one thing. Lily had a limited vocabulary so she used Makaton© sign language to complement her talking. When I gave her a biscuit, she signed "thank you" by stroking her chin; when I gave her the thumbs up I was saying “good girl". The other children in my care wanted to know what she was doing, and I told the children that Lily’s ears didn’t work properly so she had difficulty in hearing. One child spent the rest of the afternoon staring at her ears - I think that I could have explained that better!


On the subject of signing, once when Lily was eating her packed lunch, she kept looking at me and making a sign which I didn’t understand. Basically, she made a circle with her thumb and index finger joining and then placed the index finger of her other hand in and out of the hole. It wasn’t until her mother collected her that I was told what this meant - it actually was her sign for dip-dip, which meant she was asking for tomato ketchup to dip her crisps in. Just as talking children have their own words for certain things, Lily had cleverly made up her own sign for this.

Lily's only other trait that was different from other children, was that when I was pushing her buggy through town she wanted to stop and talk to everyone she saw. Some people were only too pleased to oblige, although I noticed that it was mainly older people who would stop to chat, and some teenagers wouldn’t give eye contact and chose to cross the road to avoid us.

Lily was an absolute delight to look after. She had a love of music and would often tap me on the leg and put her hands each side of her mouth, the sign for "sing". When I sang she would dance, even doing a bow, and blow kisses when finished.


Lily is a young woman now, and I am really proud to say that I had a small part in her growing up. She has recently raised money for charity by doing a sponsored walk.

I am by no means an expert on children with special educational needs, but I do know that if you have an opportunity to care for them the rewards are endless and I have learned so much from working with these amazing children.

I have written more of my child-minding tales in my blog posts.  

By The Next Best Thing to Mummy


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Thank you so much for having me, I really enjoy writing about my memories from my days as a registered child minder, if anyone has any questions, or topic suggestions for my blog, please leave me a comment, either here or on my blog site

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