I read somewhere once,
“The negative views of society about Down syndrome will impact a person’s life (with Down syndrome) more than having Down syndrome ever will.”
So how do I react when confronted by someone with a negative stigma associated with Down syndrome? While my first reaction is to correct them with a megaphone, the absolute first thing I do is take a deep breath. And then maybe another. Because my job as a mother and advocate is to spread awareness and encourage people to open their minds.
The second thing I do is address the stigma head on. I kindly challenge their ideology and ask them to explain. This is usually where the conversation turns. Either they stick with their beliefs, or they begin to look past what they originally thought.
The last thing I do is correct them by sharing stories about Tessa or stories about those with Down syndrome that I have met, emphasizing heavily on all of the wonderful things a person who happens to have an extra chromosome can do–never what they may not be able to do. Because there are things that each of us may not be able to do, but every one of us is capable of creating greatness.
But sometimes I am unable to change minds, or even make an impression. Sometimes those thoughts and words of others hurt because I want so badly for them to see the road I have been on. I want them to see the hurdles, the hard times, the triumphs, the tears, the joy, the sadness and the laughter…I want everyone to know how great that lovely girl with Down syndrome is. But some never will.
And for every person who has ever had to deal with this, let me just extend a hug your way. You deserved better…so did your loved one.
Raising awareness will never stop. There is too much work to be done.
Are you aware that Down syndrome occurs in 1 out of every 691 live births each year.
Are you aware that Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring genetic disorder, yet is the least funded by our government?
Are you aware that people with Down syndrome can do things like:
- Mainstream in school
- Read and write
- Play sports
- Get married
- Own businesses
- Have families
- Live independently
These are just a few examples of the many great things a person with Down syndrome CAN do just like those who do not have Down syndrome.
Are you aware that people with Down syndrome are PEOPLE and not a diagnosis?
We all have something to learn from one another.