For babies with Down Syndrome, partaking in a public photo contest maybe a tedious task and probably way out of the question. However, 2 years old Abriella Aseda Buabeng, broke down barriers and made it to the final stage of the Cussons Baby Contest 2021.
Born on 3rd of July 2019, little Abreilla was diagnosed with down syndrome just two weeks after she was born. Her mom, Sel Buabeng had rushed her to the hospital after an episode of fever and noisy breathing when her diagnosis was made.
Down syndrome (DS) occurs when an individual is born with 3 copies of the 21st chromosome instead of the regular pair. This is not caused by any health condition of parents or any medication. It just occurs by luck, just like winning the lottery. It is estimated by the WHO to occur once in every 1100 live births. Parenting a child with Down Syndrome can be very challenging but also filled with many blessings and life lessons.
As a result of Down syndrome, Aseda was born with a congenital heart defect, Ventricular Septal Defect. A hole in one of the chambers of her heart, she also has Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a sleep disorder due to enlarged adenoids and tonsils.
For baby Aseda, getting a common cold always almost ends with a hospital stay for her. At 23 months old, Aseda is not walking…yet, but she’s sitting unsupported, and crawling wherever she wants to go in the house. She’s also learning to communicate her needs very well, though she is yet to start using words.
These little efforts made by Aseda so far were achieved because her parents have a multidisciplinary team working with her on a daily basis, a team of trained and competent speech and language therapists and Physio Therapists. Her family is yet to have access to occupational therapy, something that Aseda needs urgently.
Taking care of a child with special needs can be financially dinging. It is also emotionally and physically draining to her parents because they’re always moving from one Doctor’s appointment to another and from one therapy to the other. The lack of sleep, the inconsiderate comments from people e.t.c, are but a few of the challenges Aseds’s parents face on a daily.
Most hospitals in Ghana are not equipped to cater for the needs of special kids. For instance, baby Aseda’s parents commute from Accra to Tamale in order to access specialists and therapists who can respond to Aseda’s health needs. Ghana has only one Pediatric Cardiologist consultant who has to take care of the thousands of children with heart diseases in the country. There is also a lack of public mainstream schools that can cater for the needs of special kids, hence school is currently out of the option for Aseda.
Although Aseda and her parents are going through such difficult times, her mom decided to enter her into the Cussons baby Contest because she felt Aseda had all the qualities. For Aseda’s mom, she wanted to pass a message across that children like Aseda are beautiful blessings that the world needs to see, and that though they may have some delays they’ll always achieve if we believe in them and give them the opportunity to.
Aseda’s mom did not ask for any preferential treatment throughout the stages of the contest, she was given equal treatment like her colleagues. There weren’t any exceptions made for her because she didn’t need it at any point.
Aseda made it to the final stage of the contest, but wasn’t able to pick up the ultimate prize. Her win, according to her mom, would have been a big encouragement to the down syndrome community in Ghana and the special needs community at large, as well as made some money for her upkeep.
Aseda’s parents are proud of her and all she has achieved and they wish to let parents know that although it can be difficult, they’ll like to encourage them to keep believing in their children.
“It can get tiring at times, but our children will always be beautiful stars waiting to shine. All children especially children with special needs have all it takes to achieve everything and do great things if they are given the opportunity.”
Aseda’s story is an inspirational one, and her parents hope that by sharing, someone on the same journey as them, may not give up but keep hope alive.