My Brother Has Down Syndrome

My Brother Has Down Syndrome

The Truth Behind the Stereotypes
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I am the younger sister to a man who has Down syndrome. I've refrained from writing about it until now since everyone who knows me is aware of this fact, however this month is different. You see, October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and people are sharing how their family member with Down syndrome defies society's expectations. So for this article, I'm going to take the time to tell you guys about my brother, Rion.

Being the second child, I never knew any different than having a brother with special needs. My brother was my playmate, my best friend, and my family; that was all. I never saw him as being different and to be honest I don't think I really thought of him as having special needs. To me, he was just a person. I recall my mom taking Rion and I to the park one day when we were kids and some of the other kids kept staring at my brother. While I never would've noticed, my mom was quick to notice and I remember hearing her explain to them why Rion looks so different from them. Still, to me he was just a normal person.

While I came to recognize later in life that my brother is mentally challenged, my thoughts on him didn't change. We always had the typical sibling relationship: we fought, I bossed him around, and he tattled on me for being the annoying little sister quite frequently. With that, I made a point to never treat Rion as anything less than human. The way I chose to treat Rion is the way I would treat anyone. When he gets lazy and claims he can't perform a simple task (such as picking up something small and moving it), I tell him he is capable of the task and I don't budge until he does it. You may be thinking that I'm awful for this, but I can assure you that it's been the best thing for him. In having higher (yet realistic) expectations for Rion, he has acquired the ability to do for himself and to not be totally dependent upon his family. He does his own laundry, makes lunch for himself, and even got into a college program for adults with special needs. I don't think any of that would've been possible if he hadn't learned to apply himself as he has.

Furthermore, my brother has had a full life in his almost-23-years. I haven't met anyone with quite the luck that my big brother has. The example that immediately comes to mind is his acceptance into Clemson LIFE, a collegiate program for special needs adults focusing on teaching life skills. His getting into the program wasn't luck, but what happened after that was. My mom videoed my brother's reaction to getting his acceptance letter, and the video has over 2 million views on YouTube. People from all over the world were congratulating Rion and showing so much support. The video wound up gathering so much attention that my family was contacted with two forms of exciting news: his video was such an inspiration that through it (without entering a contest) we had won a VIP trip to the Orange Bowl that year AND (unrelated from the Orange Bowl) Google was wanting to use a clip from my brother's video for one of their commercials! It was a crazy time that was spurred from my brother simply being himself and winning over the hearts of the entire world. Not many people can share in that accomplishment.


I am a sister to a man with Down syndrome. Don't feel sorry for him; his life is richer than any of ours. Don't place limits upon his strengths because he very well may prove you wrong. Above all, never assume that having a family member with special needs is something to pity. If not for him, I wouldn't have become the loving and accepting person I am today. Here's to Down syndrome awareness, making you aware of the truth.


Cover Image Credit: Susan Holcombe

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21 Things You Say To Your Roommate If You Two Are Practically A Married Couple

Until I made this list, I didn't realize how absurdly close my roommate and I were. #sorrynotsorry
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1. "Can you turn the light off?"

2. "We probably shouldn't go out for dinner again...right?"

*complains about not having money* *spends $8 on Chipotle three times a week*

3. "I always pick where we go"

This is a fight you have with your roommate almost every day when you're roommate is as indecisive as mine.

4. "Do you have my keys?"

5. "Can you pick me up?"

6. "Is it hot in here?"

7. "Does this outfit look stupid?"

The answer is usually yes. No offense.

8. "Can you throw this out for me?"

9. "Can we get ice cream?"

10. "I need coffee"

This text is usually sent when you know your roomie is out running errands... errands you know are near a Starbucks.

11. "Can you tell me what happened?"

12. "Are you asleep?"

There have been times where I couldn't tell if you were asleep or dead... and I had to say this out loud to check if you were alive.

13. "Check your dm's."

*cracks up in the middle of nowhere* *catches a weird stare from your roomie across the room*

14. "Can you plug this in for me?"

15. "Can you pick a movie?"

Another instance where "I always pick" happens.

16. "Look at this girl's Instagram."

*chucks phone across the room at roommate*

17. "Can you call me?"

18. "Can we meet up?"

Separation anxiety is a real thing, people.

19. "Can you help me find my phone?"

*Tries to leave the house to do something* *loses phone* every. time.

20. "What should we do tonight?"

*tries to get ready to do something fun* *ends up staying in for another girls night*

21. "Why isn't everyone as great as us?"


Cover Image Credit: Juliarose Genuardi

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A Letter To My Military Brothers

As much as we bicker and argue, thank you, for all that you do.
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With Memorial Day right around the corner, I just wanted to send the utmost respect for those fighting for our country, including my brothers.

I have four brothers, three of which have served or are currently serving in the United States Military. All of which I am so grateful for what they have done and continue to do for our country.

I guess this article is to really to say thank you to my brothers, and also a "you suck" for making me miss you guys so much.

To be honest, I never would've guessed that you three would enlist, mostly because you all are my brothers. Also, maybe because Mom could never bear the sight of you guys of leaving. I always expected you guys just to go to college, get a job, find a nice girl, then I would finally be the cool aunt. Well, that didn't happen. Number one, I'm still waiting to be a cool aunt, I'm not getting any younger here!

As a kid, you guys annoyed me like crazy, stealing my stuffed animal (her name was Angel), marking X's over my Jonas Brothers posters, or "forgetting" to pick me up from school, yeah I'm talking about you Marshall. We've been through so many ups and downs, but seriously, all three of you are my best friends, whether you boys agree or not.

We are older now and I have looked up to you countless times. I know that you guys will always have my back because let's face it, I will always have yours. I missed you guys a lot, not talking every day, y'all buying me food, or laying on the couch in the game room watching movies. With two of you going overseas, missing Christmas and Thanksgiving it just didn't feel like it used to. Our home wasn't the same, but that's okay because I knew it was the right choice.

I know that I annoyed you all right back, but that is what a little sister is supposed to do. Hopefully, you guys look back on how much fun we had as kids, even if I did happen to tattle tale once or twice (or many times) on you.

Basically, what I am getting at, is how happy I am with the way your life has gone and how thankful I am to have you boys as my brothers. Although you three joining the military was something I never expected, I am truly grateful for all that you do for me and for everyone else in this country.

To all of those little sisters with brothers in the military, you don't realize how lucky you are. You have a brother who not only will do anything for you no matter the circumstance AND is in one of the most honorable jobs and experiences that one can have.

I love you guys lots, ya know. Thanks for being the best big brothers around.

Love,

your favorite and ONLY sister.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Carpenter

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