What Down Syndrome is Really Like

What Down Syndrome Is Really Like

Everything you think you know about down syndrome is about to change.

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Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that affects people on a continuum, ranging from severe to mild. Meaning that not every individual with down syndrome is going to be the same. What I think is interesting is that we lump them all together, and don't look at them as an individual.

In today's society, people like to look at kids or others with down syndrome and label them as weird or different. There is a stigma surrounding the down syndrome community. They think that these individuals have a harder life or don't have a good quality of life. It's like they almost feel sorry for the individuals with down syndrome. After being involved with individuals with down syndrome ever since my cousin was born, I can assure you everything you think that you know is about to change.

I have learned many things from my cousin that I probably would have never been exposed to if it was not for him coming into all of my family's lives.

Something that always amazes me is his not only his ability but his capability to love. Ever since he was born, my life has been filled with nothing but laughs and love. It is not always sunshine and rainbows, there are a fair share of tough days. But he always brightens my darkest days. He taught me to love everyone you come by, no matter your differences.

When I was in high school I ran an event that involved kids with down syndrome cheering on the sidelines during that game and I do not think felt so much love and happiness in one place all at one time.

But every time I see my cousin I am greeted to him running into my arms (sometimes in tears), and always the biggest hug. And then I always have an invitation to sleep over. He is someone who loves to cheer on the football team and makes sure that no dog ever goes hungry since he makes sure they always have food. This kid loves to dance and sing. I cannot leave out, he loves to host family feud alongside Steve Harvey.

Some people might say that caring for individuals with down syndrome is an inconvenience or a burden, but, it is everything but that. You learn to live your life differently and with so much more happiness and laughter than you did before. I am forever and eternally grateful that he came into my life.

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An Open Letter To The Friend Who Became My Sister

Love is thicker than blood.
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Sis,

There are friends. Then, there are best friends.

According to "Grey's Anatomy's" Meredith Grey and Cristina Yang, they're your person. The one who, “If I murdered someone, I'd call you to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor." You're so much more to me than any of those titles can express.

As I've matured throughout the years, I've come to the conclusion that good friends with good hearts serve an incredibly important purpose in our lives, going above and beyond what we give them credit and appreciation for.

The family we choose. You're one of those.

The day we met, I knew that you were going to play an important role in my life. What I had no idea of was that you would join the cast of my life with a starring role.

First, I need to say thank you. Thank you for always coming to my locker to check in before class during high school. Thank you for letting me control the music on road trips. Thank you for sharing your family with me, and addressing my family as if you were born into it.

Thank you for patiently listening to the physical embodiment of a broken record when I complain about the same boy I've loved since senior year. Thank you for tagging along on every doctor's appointment, grocery run, and trip to the post office, just because you know that I hate doing things alone.

Thank you for not thinking twice before dialing when I text you, “Please call me." Thank you for never saying no to a coffee date. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for being my better half.

We don't share the same genetic makeup, but after all the sleepovers, heart-to-heart conversations, shopping until our bank accounts cry, and swapping clothes so often that we don't know what belongs to whom, how could I not consider you family? We have shared some of my fondest memories together, and I wouldn't want them to feature anyone but you.

You've been with me on my best days and loved me on my worst. You know how to make me laugh when all I want to do is crawl into a hole and die.

Picturing sitting in my car with you in the passenger seat makes me long for summer, where we spend three months together doing all of our favorite things. You've seen me naked, done my makeup, and warned me before making a poor decision. Being away from you for extended periods of time makes me feel incomplete.

You are a piece of me that I am not quite whole without. You taught me that blood doesn't make a family, love does.

You know me better than I know myself, which is both amazing and terrifying. You make me realize I'm enough for this world, and that means more to me than I know how to express in the limited words that make up the English language.

You remind me that I am more than my mistakes, and you keep me grounded when I spiral out of control. You've helped me carry my burdens along with your own, even when the universe comes down on you full force, way harder than you deserve.

You're the one I come to for the truth if I think my new dress makes me look fat, and I know you'll be honest. I trust you with my whole heart. You know the gory details about every boy I've ever crushed on, every professor who was an absolute jerk, and every fight I've had with my mom.

I wouldn't make it in this life without someone who already understands and listens to every thought going through my head and each thing I seriously over think, even when you know, though you don't say, it won't matter in a week.

With all these affectionate things being said, don't forget our fights. The few we've had were very real. We still don't see eye-to-eye on some events of the past, but I never told my mom about it because there was no need to make her choose a side between me and her “second daughter."

We have learned to move forward, because the love we have for each other overwhelmingly outweighs any disagreement we've had, and always will.

Through all the tears and laughs, I don't think that anything the world has to offer could seriously come between us. You go to a different school than me now, and college has rudely gotten in the way of our routine of spending every waking moment together.

Since we met, we've grown separately without growing apart. Neither of us are the same person we used to be all those years ago. Even so, we've pushed each other to our limits and you've given me the courage to keep going and do things that make me happy.

We lean on each other when it's been a bad day and all we want to do is to snuggle and indulge in whichever show the other is currently watching unceasingly and unabashedly for comfort (it's the little things). Having you as my co-pilot on this crazy ride called life has been frustrating, exciting, slightly concerning, absolutely insane, and something I don't know how I would live without, and I don't intend to find out.

I'll conclude this letter with a quote from every basic, white girl's favorite musical, “I don't know if I've been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

Love you forever,

Your sis

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5 Truths Every Future Teacher 100 Percent Already Knows, So You Don't Have To Remind Them

We are going to school for years, to be in a school for the rest of our working lives.

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All of us future teachers typically hear the same sorts of things about what we are going to be doing with the rest of our lives. While none of the following reasons are necessarily untrue, there are silver linings to absolutely all of them that make each and every one of the future teachers sitting in college classrooms right now, even more excited for what lies ahead.

1. We do understand that we won't necessarily make a lot of money.

One of my professors told my class that if you're taking this career path for the money, you're in the wrong place because this should be about your love for teaching, not for an increasing salary. While it is important to know what you're getting into, I completely agree with that professor.

2. We know being an education major is actually difficult.

On a college campus, the most common stereotype floating around about education majors is that their workload is extremely easy as well as their classes. Sure, it's no Stoichiometry (I can't even imagine sitting in a classroom learning about that), but our classes are hard in their own way. Having to relearn the basics of subtracting three-digit numbers to then be able to teach to a second grader is a lot harder than it sounds, thank you common core!

3. It's not really the same thing every year.

As a teacher, you have a curriculum that requires you to teach the same content to your students every year for the duration of your career. However, every year has the potential to be extremely different from the next. Each year you have a new batch of kids, a new batch of personalities and a new batch of stories. This is one of the most exciting parts about teaching, you have the ability to know what to expect but also so much uncertainty at the same time.

4. Yes, we will be with children all day.

"Aren't you going to get bored talking like a kid and having to look down a few feet just to make eye contact?" Yes I have been asked this and frankly, as a future teacher, I wouldn't want it any other way! Working with kids all day and being their support system and voice while also providing them with the things they need to learn as they grow up is my ideal day in the workplace. But yes, there will be adults as well, other teachers, who all will feel the same way when we take a break from those kids at lunch.

5. It takes a special heart to be a teacher.

Yes, this is an argument all around the education field, and while it's true, I believe that anyone could work to have the heart to be a teacher. Being a teacher requires patience, care, love, and the desire to work with kids. If you don't have any of these qualities, then yes maybe it does take a special heart to be a teacher.

With all of the above comments kept in mind, I personally couldn't be more excited to teach kids of any ability and age. Working with children on a daily basis for nine months out of the year can get negative comments, but as a future teacher I think that there is a silver lining to each one of the five comments. If you think about it, there probably is a teacher in your life that without, you might not have gotten to the point you are at today. So thank your past teachers, and here's to the the future teachers.

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