It is a day set aside to celebrate, and to advocate for, people in our world who have been born with an extra 21st chromosome. This extra chromosome gives all people with DS their common almond shaped eyes, low muscle tone and an intellectual impairment. Like all syndromes there is a spectrum of severity.
People with DS are people first. They, like everybody else, have likes and dislikes. They have talents and gifts. They have emotions. They are not always happy as is commonly perceived. They do not all like music as is commonly perceived as well. Children with DS can be very head strong and do need to be managed, just like other children who have strong personalities.
People with DS do learn to read, write and do math. They will just do it at their own pace. They are not tied to Government timelines for when learning should occur. They do everything to their own beat...not the world's beat. They can learn to talk clearly and effectively. You can have a conversation with a person with DS. They do love and get married. They do get jobs. They do live independently or semi-independently. They do represent their countries at the Special Olympics in a variety of sports. They achieve...they live....they love....they have great lives.
But yet we kill them prenatally. People are scared of having a baby with DS. Society's perceptions are that it is going to be a bad thing. I did not know prenatally that Jessica was going to have DS and I would not have aborted her if I had known, as I personally am pro-life. But when we did find out when she was 4 weeks old, I went into deep depression. I had in my mind, told to me by society, that this was a horrendous thing for a child to be born with. I thought it meant that my baby would not learn anything, would be a huge burden on our family....basically that our family life would be bad from then on. But it hasn't been!
It took nearly a year to come to terms with the diagnosis.
Looking back over the past 6 years I can say it hasn't been always a bed of roses, but nor has it been for Melissa and Nick. Melissa was a very difficult baby and toddler. Jessica was an easy baby and an easy toddler. It was when she hit 4 she started needing managing...but many children of that age need managing.
Jessica is confident. She is friendly. She loves music and modelling. She loves playing with her Ipad. She loves playing with our puppy Smokey. She loves playgrounds. She loves her baby doll.
We have great expectations for Jessica. We can see her holding down a job when she is older and living a happy, productive life.
Our life has been blessed by having Jessica. Jessica has opened us up to a whole new world. We have met new people, been new places, and experienced new things. We have had our preconceptions challenged and changed.
My fear with the new prenatal blood-test for DS, that more innocent babies will be aborted and never be allowed to show the world how wonderful they are.
We must stand up for people with Down syndrome and as a human race say that this is wrong!
Happy World Down Syndrome Day from Jessica!
© 2012 by Jenny Woolsey
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