She came to me accompanied by her father. Her father told me that these days she wasn’t her usual cheerful self as she couldn’t go to school for the past year. She was sitting there with downcast eyes. I asked her, “Soorya, how are you feeling ?” She looked up at me and gave me a beautiful smile, “I am feeling good.”

Soorya is God’s special child. She has been made differently. She has something extra which you and I do not have. We all have 23 pairs of chromosomes in our cells. But Soorya has an extra chromosome. She has three numbers of the 21st chromosome, which is medically called Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome.

Soorya is 25 years old. But she is still a child. She is short, plump, walks slowly. Her eyes are almond-shaped, her nose is flat. And when you talk to her, she smiles her beautiful smile so filled with innocence, that you really feel like God is smiling at you through her.

Down syndrome is a condition that was first diagnosed by British doctor John Langdon Down. It is one of the most common chromosomal abnormalities seen in humans and occurs in about one in 1000 babies at birth. Those with Down syndrome nearly always have physical and intellectual disabilities.

As adults, their mental abilities are typically similar to those of an 8- or 9-year-old. But some of them have almost normal intelligence too. They also typically have a poor immune function and hence are prone to illnesses. They generally reach developmental milestones at a later age. They have an increased risk of a number of other health problems, including congenital heart defect, epilepsy, leukaemia, thyroid diseases, and mental disorders.

With advances in medical science, now there are screening tests available to detect this condition in pregnancy itself. So a number of these pregnancies are aborted. But still, some go undetected till birth and some parents choose to continue with the pregnancy despite knowing that they are going to parent a Down baby.

There is no treatment or cure for Down syndrome. But education and proper care make a huge difference. There are special schools for them, but some kids also attend normal schools. There are so many with Down syndrome who have overcome their limitations and done quite well.

Soorya has been cared for so well by her parents. And she is especially attached to her father, who dotes on her. He considers it a privilege to be the father of this special child.

This post is to express my love for these special children and to show my appreciation and gratitude to all those people who are involved selflessly in the care of these special children of God. They are so special. Next time you see one of them, do stop by and talk to them. And I assure you that you will be dazzled by their smile because God smiles through them.

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Divya Pai

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