Monday, October 21, 2013

October, 2011 Down Syndrome Awareness Month... Day 21

Ignorance… and grace

ig•no•rance: lack of knowledge

Ignorance is not necessarily a bad thing. We use it in a negative way when we speak tho. I have often called my husband ignorant when we have been arguing… but he’s quick to remind me that it simply means lack of knowledge. That’s NOT what I meant when I called him that, trust me.

We’ve had a few ignorant comments directed toward Josh over the years. Now, don’t get me wrong… overall we have had a pretty positive experience when it comes to acceptance. He is well known and well loved in our community. For example, when we attend the big kids sporting events, I can relax in knowing that everyone knows Josh.

They know him at the concession stand where he likes to hangout and order things… without money (someone usually pays and, just so you all know… that is NOT teaching him anything, lol). They know him on the playground, they know him in the bleachers. It’s such a comfort knowing that they know him.

But, there is ignorance too…

My ob/gyn told me, on my 6 week f/u visit after Josh was born, that people think kids with Down Syndrome are cute, up until the age of 6 or 7… “then society just doesn’t view them as cute anymore, they become more of a menace”, she said.

A respiratory therapist once told me that she hoped, if I had more kids, that I didn’t have any more like him (Josh). She told me how expensive kids like him are, how much time and patience they require and then they still aren’t normal. She apologized as she left… not because of her comments… but because Josh has Down Syndrome.

At a school function one time, I saw a mom watching Josh. She came right out and asked me… “Didn’t you know? Didn’t you know he’d be born like that? Didn’t you have a test or something?”

So yeah, we’ve encountered ignorance. These people obviously were ignorant of what it means to love a child so much it hurts… even if that child is not 100% perfect by the world’s standards. These people obviously didn’t know that having Down Syndrome isn’t a death sentence, for the person OR the family. These people didn’t know… and made comments out of ignorance.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t really angry with that doctor and respiratory therapist. No, quite the contrary… I was very angry. I sent notes to both of them… not terribly nasty notes but notes to let them know they were ignorant. Perhaps I even used that word…

I’d like to think I have grown up with Josh tho. I can hear ignorant comments now and respond more quickly and more gracefully. I love to tell people about Josh, his accomplishments, his sense of humor, his quirks… and I love to tell people about Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is far from a death sentence… it’s a life and LOVE sentence.

I read a quote once that said people with Down Syndrome learn slowly but love deeply… so true… so very very true.

We still run into the last woman on occasion and she still watches Josh. She smiles now tho… I hope we have somehow changed her way of thinking.


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