October Is Down Syndrome Awareness Month- Let's Talk About Acceptance
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
I’ve pondered for a while about what I wanted to write about in celebration of this month. I think that to date, I’ve already covered everything that I have wanted to make a point about in my previous blog entries. However, my ongoing wish is that Dominic will be accepted by his peers or society as a whole, as he gets older.
Let’s talk about acceptance.
Actor/Comedian, Denis Leary has been quoted as saying, “Racism isn’t born folks. It’s taught. I have a 2-year old son. Know what he hates? Naps. End of list.”
In reality, it’s up to us as adults and parents to teach and to remind our children, what it is to accept the differences in other people. Be it race, religion, ideas or special needs. I am sure that some would argue that I shouldn’t compare the effects of racism to special needs people. You will never convince me that these things are different.
Right now, it appears as though Dominic has many friends. Especially girlfriends. I’m not all together sure what the ratio is for male to female friends but it seems as though he’s quite popular with the ladies. Every morning when I walk him up to the door to his school, it never fails that a cute little girl or group of girls will smile, wave or say hi. Usually all three. Dom prefers blonds and African-American girls.
On a few occassions we’ve been out and about and we will pass a kid that’s Dominic’s age and they will smile, wave and tell their parents that they know him and that they go to his school. I like that. Dominic seems to be well liked by most of his peers.
I wonder how long it will last though.
It seems to me, based on my own observations, that young children are very accepting of everyone they encounter. They don’t care what anyone looks like or if they have a disability. All they care about is that they want a friend and they want someone to play with.
I have noticed, as Dominic is getting older, that children blatantly ignore him when he commits the simple offense of saying “hello”. I’ve also seen adults do the exact same thing. There have been a few occasions where I have made eye contact with these adults and made off the cuff comments that are polite yet pointed as to their ignorance.
You really are ignorant if you can’t be bothered to say hello to a little boy. Especially one as sweet and handsome as mine. Then again, it makes me wonder why they react that way? Is it because they view him as a burden? Are they intimidated by him? Do they not know how to respond?
Either way, they are in need of an education. I am responsible for this.
I have always believed that knowledge is power and I am always ready to answer any questions that children and adults have about Down Syndrome. I came to the conclusion that it was a good idea to explain Dominic’s condition to children before they meet him. I have also requested that parents also take the time to sit their children down and explain Dominic’s condition before they meet him.
I believe that this has made a positive difference.
Children are often very curious and they do have questions. I have found that it can change the dynamic of the relationship. It doesn’t cause them to be sympathetic but it does change their approach. It also helps them to respond to Dominic. They understand that they might need to be more patient and that Dominic can do everything that they can do, but maybe at a slower pace and a little bit differently.
You should know that, as Dominic’s family, we don’t expect anyone to lavish him with kindness or go out of their way for him. It would be nice that if someone saw Dominic being bullied or hurt that they would step in and assist him. I would hope anyone would do that for a typical kid also. We aren’t asking you to resume any responsibilities or asking you to do anything other than extend the same kindness that you offer other people. He’s really not that different than you or other kids his age.