Today is World Down Syndrome Day!
March 21st, or 3/21, standing for 3 of the 21st chromosome.
I have three siblings with Down syndrome, and many other little friends with Down syndrome, all who I love to pieces.
But here's the thing.
I'm not here to tell you about how special people with Down syndrome are, and why we should celebrate them today.
Because I don't think today is about celebrating them.
I think today is about making a point of pointing out to people that people with Down syndrome should be accepted like everyone else.
When I see one of my siblings or one of my other little friends with Down syndrome, I forget in the every day that they have Down syndrome.
When I look at Elijah, I see Elijah, not my-brother-with-Down-syndrome. It's part of who he is, not something that makes him different than everyone else.
Obviously, there are doctor appointments, therapies, and challenges that come up because of their diagnosis, but even then it doesn't scream Down syndrome at me.
I don't think it's much different than when I see someone with blonde hair. I notice it, but not every time I look at them, and it's not what I think about when I look at them.
I'm not trying to take away from the fact they have blonde hair by not pointing it out to them, and I'm not trying to take away the fact someone has Down syndrome by not pointing it out to them.
Today is about acceptance. Accepting people with special needs for who they are, and not treating them different than anyone else.
I'm not saying not to be more patient and understanding when they don't behave perfectly, and I know with some things you have to take their diagnosis into account.
But, you don't have to constantly thinking about the fact they have Down syndrome, and treating them like it.
When we are out and about, yes, I still notice if there is an adult across the restaurant who has Down syndrome. But do I need to to go over with one of my siblings and introduce myself? Absolutely not. Sure, I'll smile at them if they smile at me as they walk by, or I'll say thank you and smile at them if they hold the door open for me. But I won't do anything more than I would do anyone else. I don't introduce myself and my sibling with Down syndrome to point out they are both the same and different than everyone else.
If you see a woman who is a complete stranger with no hair, do you go up to them and tell them that your sister-in-law also had breast cancer? Or smile sympathetically at them and stare at their head? Why should it be any different with someone with Down syndrome?
Be patient, listen carefully if they try to talk to you, but don't act like they are different.
Because they are as different from people without Down syndrome as you are from me.
Do you the same face and body type as me? Nope, and they don't have the same one as you. You accept me for who I am, so accept them as who they are.
Happy World Down Syndrome Day!