Today, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day. The United Nations General Assembly officially declared March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day back in 2011, even though people had already been observing it for a few years before that. World Down Syndrome Day is recognized on this day because being the twenty-first day of the third month, it is symbolic of a third copy of the twenty first chromosome, or Down syndrome. Some of the goals of the day are to raise awareness, to educate, to promote acceptance, and to promote inclusion.
Here are five things that my son is not.
- He is not a Down syndrome person. He is a person with Down syndrome. I’m not called a hazel eyed person, I’m a person with hazel eyes. People should never be identified by their abilities or disabilities. People are people and should be thought of and treated as such.
- He is not suffering from Down syndrome. It’s not a disease. It’s not catchy. It’s a chromosomal condition.
- He is not always happy. He has the whole range of feelings, just like you and I.
- He is not always a saint. Yes, he gets into his own fair share of mischief. Really.
- He is not completely different than other children his age. He is far more alike then different. He loves music (Hinder and Papa Roach are his two favorite bands), television, video games and snacks.
And here are five things that my son is.
- He is compassionate. He’s the first one with a hug if he senses you’re feeling down.
- He is intelligent. He can figure out any tv, stereo or video game console within minutes.
- He is sensitive to other people’s needs. He knows when someone is feeling down and is the first to offer a shoulder.
- He is impatient. Just like any other 13 year old, he rolls his eyes and sighs.
- He is a tease. He wipes his kisses off, just so you will give him another.
Everyone can make a difference. Wondering how you can make a difference? It’s easy. Basically, it’s a two step program.
- Learn more about Down syndrome.
- Share what you learn.
Three steps actually, the third step being Repeat.
For me, every day is World Down Syndrome Day. Every day I fight for what’s best for my son’s well being, and to make sure that his rights are respected. It’s a fight that is as challenging, strenuous and exhausting as any fight in a boxing ring. It can be emotionally bloody and it can hurt like hell. But I will never let it break me. here’s a verse in the song Still Swingin by Papa Roach that sums up how I feel about my battle as a parent.
We’re just living for today
Keep our light on in the haze
Yeah, forever we will stay
We are the ones still swingin’
We are a beacon in the dark
A lighthouse risen from the heart
We’ve been here from the start
We are the ones still swingin’
It is my hope that some day society will be a different place. A compassionate place. An accepting place. A safe place. I hope I live to see that day. More importantly, I hope my son lives to see that day. But until that day arrives I’ll be right here, still swingin.
Dr Seuss once said some very wise words that are very relevant.
You can make a difference just by learning more about Down syndrome and sharing what you learn with others. The National Down Syndrome Society offers some great free resources that can help you learn more about Down syndrome. Just click on the button below and you’ll be taken to their page.