Today is World Down Syndrome Day because it is 3/21, which represents the extra genetic material on the 21st chromosome.
Recently, my 10-year-old daughter was talking to some kids in her class and told them she has a brother with Down syndrome. They all said how they felt sorry for her and how bad it must be to have a brother with DS.
She responded, "What's there to feel sorry about? My brother is awesome and I love having him as a brother."
n the news, two teen girls have been accused of torturing a young man with an intellectual disability.
Why do people feel sorry for, or worse, mistreat, people with disabilities? Why?
The kids that said this to my daughter should not feel sorry for my son. He is so loved. He is happy. He lives in a safe home, has plenty of food to eat, goes to school, and will be playing baseball on a team next week. He has a wonderful life filled with lots of fun, joy, and laughter.
I think people are still so ignorant about DS, or other disabilities, and they fear what they do not understand. That fear leads to prejudice and can then lead to mistreatment. In the case of the teen girls, it was far worse than mistreatment, it was downright abuse and I hope they will be held accountable for their actions.
World Down Syndrome Day is to help make people aware of DS. I think most people know what DS is, or have at least heard of it, but I think very few understand it. They think it is a curse and a terrible thing. I didn't think much about DS before my son. Honestly, I was terrified of what it would mean to our family when he was born, but I have learned that my fear was totally unfounded.
Yes, things with him are different. It takes him a little longer to do things. So what? Why is it so important to be on a certain time schedule? I've learned to just enjoy the journey with him instead of stressing out over a time schedule. He eventually does everything his siblings do.
He is reading. He knows all of his letters, sounds, numbers. He's learning math. He loves to sing. He can run a computer like nobody's business. He loves music and is very interested in the piano. He likes to make people laugh. He comforts people when they are sad or hurt. He tells me he loves me and gives me kisses.
Down syndrome presents challenges for those who have it, but the biggest challenge is making people aware that those with DS are so much more like them than not. It isn't the DS that limits my son, it's people's attitudes about DS that limit him. People like to put him in a box. I say, get rid of that stupid box and let him be and do whatever he wants. Let him soar. See him as a person, not as a chromosome count.
For our family, we celebrate our son/brother/cousin/uncle. Sure, he has DS, but DS does not define him. Let's celebrate our similarities instead of focusing on our differences.
To me, every child is a gift no matter how he/she is wrapped.