So, over on instagram we're doing some fun and different stuff for the month of October - which happens to be Down Syndrome Awareness month!
One of the things we're doing is a Q&A. I asked for questions and now I'm answering them! Today's answer got too long for Instagram - and rather than cut it down I decided to just go ahead and blog my full answer.
Q: "What is the biggest misconception about Down syndrome, in your opinion?"
What first comes to mind is the idea that all people with Down syndrome require a lot of extra support. When Zoey was denied the right to attend enrichment classes it hit me hard! These people knew only that she has Down syndrome, they didn't ask any questions, they simply said "we aren't equipped for Down syndrome"! So for us, not being "equipped" is like saying: we can't keep a close eye on your daughter, help her here and there with fine motor skills, be patient when she wants to observe rather than join in, or take the time to listen closely to distinguish what she's saying to us. I don't know about you, but when I think of places that provide classes for children I feel like those are all things that should be a given! Any child could require the same "extra" help as mine, but because of a diagnosis my child was denied - and that needs to stop!
I think the biggest misconception is the idea that people with Down syndrome are somehow incapable (in any way, shape, or form). People with Down syndrome are accomplishing BIG things! But ya know what, it's not even about that. It's about assuming competence and giving people a chance to show you who they are (not what they can or can't do)!
Finally ... I fear that there is a misconception that people with Down syndrome must accomplish big things to be seen as equals in this fast paced society we live in. Those of us parenting children with Down syndrome are doing so at a pretty incredible time! We are seeing people with Down syndrome accomplish great things, it's exciting and it absolutely gives us a lot of hope! but, after how far we've progressed in the last fifty or so years, I'd hate to see the scales begin to tip a different direction - to a new level of "comparison". I've actually had people write to me regarding this and it breaks my heart! Our kids are amazing guys, AMAZING! ... it's not about reading or doing math equations, it's not about knowing all the dance moves or hitting a home run, it's not about awards or fame - they're amazing because they are exactly who they were meant to be!