What’s better than a smile?
Maybe a smile and a hug.
Nowhere is that more important than in a child with Down syndrome.
“It’s important to get them into the mood of being loved, that they’re enjoying themselves, that their smile is not just a reminder that they can have a smile,” says Dr. Jennifer Evers, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
Evers’ team developed a simple, three-step program that can help them get a smile for their children.
“This is a great way to encourage them to smile and enjoy themselves,” she says.
To learn more about autism, see our new special report, Autism in America.
How to make a hug for a child who doesn’t have a face for a hug (Video) It’s not just about making sure a child has a face.
The trick is to keep the smile going and not let the person know that it’s not about them.
“The best way to give them a hug is to say, ‘Thank you for giving me a hug,'” Evers says.
She suggests doing so with the child’s face hidden.
“When the child opens their mouth, they need to say to themselves, ‘This is really, really cute.’
If you give them that hug, they will appreciate it and respond to it,” she adds.
“That way, you don’t have to say something like, ‘That’s a good hug.’
Instead, it’s like, You did a good job!
Thank you for getting me this hug.”
For more information on autism, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.