I’m almost there. I said I was going to write every month for Judah’s birthday and I’ve done it. I’ve filled your news feeds with clinical information and a window to my soul. I’ve shared stories of heartache, and of life altering love. I’m already mentally preparing for the one year post. Just thinking about it about brings me to tears. I spend a lot of time these days reflecting, and honestly, it brings forth a pretty good size chunk of anxiety…so, I don’t want to go there… yet. Instead I’d like to keep it light this month. I’d like to keep my psyche out of the story because I’m in a fragile state thinking about where I was a year ago.
So, here’s some beautiful things I’ve learned over the last year:
Most children with Down syndrome are mainstreamed into regular classrooms. They have friends, go to birthday parties and get an education. I remember when my little (but much wiser) brother came to see me in the hospital right after Judah was born. He works at a high school in a small town. All kids feed into this high school, so all students are enfolded into the daily deeds. He said to me ” Beth, you know, nobody bullies kids with Down syndrome anymore. It is almost like they are the ones most likely to NOT be bullied. They are protected.” It is so different from just a few *ahem* years ago when I was in school. Although this was the least of my worries at the time, I still stared at my new, almost foreign, little life and breathed an audible sigh of relief.(thanks Kris)
People with Down syndrome can do what we can do. They read and write and problem solve. They think for themselves and are not “always happy,” despite popular misconception. In fact, anyone who knows Judah, knows he makes the most adorable, freaking, frowning faces I have ever seen in my life.
One new friend Molly shared with me how her daughter told her she wanted to read. So, they hired her a tutor and read she did. Catherine is a determined little girl. She set her mind to something, and by gosh, she did it! No wonder we are constantly impressed by these miraculous little beings.
There is a boy named Jay Nothnagle who also had his parents hire him a tutor….so he could drive. He has his license and has his own pick-up truck that he tools around town in. He is not the only one, by the way.
You want more you say? 250 colleges have programs across the United States for people with Down syndrome. There are courses that include everything from basic life skills to child psychology. There is a foundation, ruby’s rainbow. They work tirelessly so that some even get a free ride to college. People with Down syndrome can now get married (a few even have babies) they own restaurants and they sell paintings and pottery. They are elected into office and break weightlifting world records, not Special Olympic records; world records. They model, act and live a beautiful life on their own. There’s another foundation, #changingthefaceofbeauty . This remarkable community spends their days urging store chains. Their mission is to include people with all abilities in their ad campaigns, and it’s working!!! How’s that for unmasking delusion?
90% of these wonderful humans with Down syndrome are not being born because of false information. Information that is the antonym of everything I’m trying to convey here. People with Down syndrome love their lives and they are advocates for themselves. They are also friends, brothers, aunts, sisters and coworkers. They are awe inspiring and they astonish.
All of this is in the realm of possibilities as Judah nears the ripe old age of one. There is so much he has already accomplished. So, let us all try to lay off the labels a little bit and instead let’s learn. Let’s learn how to separate a person from their disability and let’s let go of limits. You see, if we give our little kites an unlimited amount of string, who knows how high these babies can fly?