The other side of awareness
I remember Rion watching him climb up and, clapping, he said, “Good boy! Good job! You are such a BIG boy! I’m so proud of you!” After they had eaten and dispersed, Rion remained in the room with me. I sat down and explained to Rion that Josh wasn’t a baby.
He was a regular 14 year-old boy; he was just smaller than others.
I explained how, like other 14 year-old boys, he didn’t want to be cuddled by another boy his age……..maybe a GIRL his age though! I said, “He is just like all of the other boys in the group, thinks like them, likes the same things, has the same interests, he is just small in size.”
I wasn’t sure how much of this Rion understood until he smiled
at me and said, “Oh, like I have Down Syndrome!”
I had never told Rion he has Down’s syndrome.
It wasn’t that I was hiding the fact, I just didn’t think it mattered. I am very open with my children about everything, and if he ever had a question I would answer it. I felt there was no reason to tell him he is different if he didn’t think he was different. After all, having Down syndrome isn’t his defining characteristic.
Having Down’s syndrome is equal to having blonde hair, blue eyes, glasses, etc……but he is so many more things than a person with DS. He is a remarkable athlete, a busboy at a local diner, a fundraiser, a friend to many, a loving grandson, the family comedian, a baseball player, a basketball player, an accomplished competitive swimmer, a loyal big brother, and a future college student, a Clemson Tiger no less!
Since that day, every time he sees someone with DS, he
recognizes them right away. He says, “Hey Mom, he looks like me! He has Down’s syndrome too.”
Then he introduces himself.
And if you have never seen two people with Down’s syndrome meet, they instantly hug as if they have known one another forever.