My second son was born on March 31, 2013. Henry brought with him many surprises, not the least of which was his precipitous birth in the hospital parking lot!
A few hours after his memorable entrance, my doctor shared her suspicions that Henry had Down syndrome.
It was a scary and sad day for my family. But as any parent of a child with Down syndrome will tell you, while those feelings are normal, they will soon be replaced with so much joy, pride, and love that you will wonder why you ever felt sadness.
Our Henry playing in the snow this year
What is Down syndrome? Google might tell you that a person with Down syndrome has distinctive facial features, learning disability, low muscle tone, and health problems caused by an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.
You might have to dig a little deeper to learn that while some of these may be true of a person with Down syndrome, they fall far short of defining people with Down syndrome — and that simple description leaves out the best parts! While those with Down syndrome tend to share some facial features, they look more like their family members than each other. People with Down syndrome feel and experience everything you and I do — happiness, sadness, excitement, anger, and the desire to be included.
Some people with Down syndrome are smashing down barriers and expectations by driving cars, going to college, and getting married. Lots of people with Down syndrome don’t do those things and that’s OK too! People with Down syndrome are celebrated every day by their friends and families for who they are, not what they achieve. Isn't that what we all want?
People with Down syndrome lead long, fulfilling lives with friends and family and lots of love.
World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on March 21 (3/21 represents the 3 copies of the 21st chromosome). In honor of World Down Syndrome Day this year, we asked some parents of children and adults with Down syndrome to share one special thing they appreciate about their child with Down syndrome. Here's what they had to say:
I love that Eli, my 6-year-old with Down syndrome, is drawn to music and dancing. He hears a song and just moves without fear of judgment. He dances and looks around as if he’s saying "See how much fun this is!? You should dance too!"
—Kelly R., mom to Eli
What I love is how innocent she is and yet so observant, so willing to try new things! I appreciate how loving she is and always has a smile on her face, nothing can bring her down.
—Kaiti P., mom to Isabella
—Laurie K., mom to Alex
—Jaime K., mom to Madison
The one thing all families that include a child with Down syndrome have in common? Our families wouldn’t be complete without them! People talk about “high functioning” and “low functioning” when it comes to people with disabilities, but we don’t really care about that. Our families wouldn’t function nearly as well without our person with Down syndrome!
Erica Roth is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Medina, Ohio.