My Little Brother With Down Syndrome Teaches Me So Much

My Little Brother With Down Syndrome Teaches Me So Much

Having a sibling with Down Syndrome can be hard, but it is also a unique and eye-opening experience.

A lot of us grow up with siblings in our lives, whether they're younger, older or close to our age. While we don't like to admit it when we're young, our brothers and sisters help shape who we are and how we see the world. They also tend to teach us important lessons that we may have never learned without them.

When I was 4 years old, my brother was born. I was an only child before then and I remember being so excited to finally have someone to play with. Being young, it never occurred to me that there was anything different about him. He was cute, fun to play with and I enjoyed having him around. I would bring all of my stuffed animals to the living room while he was laying on the floor and make a circle with them around him because I liked him so much.

As I grew older, I began to see what other people usually see about my little brother. He didn't walk, talk or act like other children his age. That is when it occurred to me that my brother was different. But not in a bad way.

Growing up with a sibling who has Down Syndrome is a blessing as well as a challenge. For those who do not know, Down Syndrome is a genetic defect caused by an extra or third chromosome on the 21st set of chromosomes. It usually results in lower cognitive functioning and distinct physical features such as short stature, low muscle tone, upward slanting eyes, etc. But if you know someone with Down Syndrome, you know that these skin deep aspects have nothing on their cheerful and amazing personalities.

Having a sibling who "isn't like the other kids" can be a struggle. I grew up watching people stare at my brother and give him strange looks. I had friends ask what was wrong with him and why he did the little things he does. As a kid, I was always embarrassed. I used to think, "Why am I the one with the brother everyone always has questions about?" Looking back, I know it was something I had to go through in order to embrace the special person my brother is.

Now being in college, I look back at the way I used to be embarrassed of my brother and laugh. If there is one thing that having a sibling with Down Syndrome teaches you, it is that you have to have tough skin. Learning to accept my brother for who he is was difficult, but it also taught me not to judge others so quickly. It taught me that you have to be patient and be slow to anger with certain people. But the biggest lesson it taught me was how to embrace someone for who they are, little quirks and all.

Do I sometimes still struggle with having a sibling who is different? Sure. Having to take the stairs one step at a time or listen to him singing along to Aladdin for the 10 millionth time can be a little annoying. But it makes up for it when I get to see him do things that really surprise me, like read out loud or swim better than most people I know.

Having a brother with Down Syndrome is difficult, but it is also fun and rewarding. Watching someone go about life in a different way can change the way you see your own. If I had to sum up my experience is one sentence, it would be this: There is no such thing as DIS-abled, only DIFFERENTLY-abled.

Cover Image Credit: Crabb, Megan

Popular Right Now

A Letter To My Sister For Her First Semester In College

Some Advice to My Sister For Her First Semester

To My Sister,

I'm going to start by saying how proud I am of you and your accomplishments thus far and making it to the first step of a long but important journey of your life, college.

It seems like only yesterday we were just two kids who wanted to both be pop stars when we grew up so we prepared by performing at places like nursing homes and festivals to prepare (even though we got over that phase by the time we hit 5th grade). I'm writing this letter to you in hopes of giving good advice and wisdom from my 5 years of struggling as a college student.

Never Give Up On ANYTHING

You need to believe that you can do anything that you set your mind to because YOU CAN. I know it seems like the impossible when you're trying to pull that first all-nighter to finish a paper that is due in the morning but you got this! Even if you don't believe in yourself just remember that I do.

Stay Focused On What You Want To Accomplish

College is an awesome, fun experience in your life and I know how distracting everything else can be but make sure to focus on your projects and assignments. I know I sound like our mom but trust me when I say do your assignments for your classes because good grades lead to the things that you want most to accomplish in the future. Stay focused on what you want to accomplish and the rest will follow suit.

Always Know I'm Here For You

I promise that I will always be a text or call away if you need any help with anything. Even if you are having a tough time with deciding what you want from Taco Bell, just give me a call. You also have a wonderful family that will make a great support system (You know because I'm part of that family). I will always be by your side no matter what happens; it is kind of my job as your big sister after all.

Go Out And Explore

Explore on your own and figure out what you are most passionate about. Go join some clubs or participate in an intramural sports team. Find your passion; who knows it might just lead to what you want to do for the rest of your life.

Have Fun

Go make some friends, go to social events organized by the campus, go party (just not too hard). Remember that there is always time to take a break from the work of college and have a little fun. You can't just sit in your room all day and study till your brain is fried. Working hard comes with the relief of having a break every once in a while as well. College is a once in a lifetime experience so don't miss out on it.

I love you with all of my heart. We have been through thick and thin together and can't wait to see what the future has for the two of us. I'm ready to see what you can accomplish and know that YOU CAN DO IT!

With Love,

Your Big Sis



Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

When You're The Youngest Sibling, This Is Your Life

The youngest siblings always get thrown under the bus, but we win our parents' hearts.

Being the youngest sibling definitely has its perks, and your older siblings are jealous. Your parents take your side in arguments that you start, you get to take clothes, and you are able to boss around your older siblings to drive you around. It's not always the greatest being the youngest sibling, however, because you are constantly being watched and must live up to the standards of your oldest brother or sister.

1. Sneaking through your older siblings' closet

Being the youngest sibling means free clothes; however, it’s not very simple snatching these clothes from your sibling’s closets. There’s a strategy to sneaking around, but the second you hear footsteps up the stairs, you suddenly become a track star.

2. Lasting impressions on teachers

You are never excited to see a teacher on your schedule that your older sibling once had. “Oh you’re _____’s sister?” can either mean a constant competition to live up to your sibling’s standards or an automatic terrible first impression because of your sibling’s misbehavior in the past.

3. Your parents always take your side

Let’s face it, you constantly fight like cats and dogs with your siblings. Even if you started the battle, your parents always take your side.. Watching your older siblings get punished after because of something you started was always the best sight to see.

4. You have your own chauffeur

Your older siblings are always there to drive you around, and they can’t say no to the baby of the house. However, when your siblings picked you up, it could have been really embarrassing.

5. Baby pictures who?

Remember when you had to look for a cute #tbt or a baby picture for your senior yearbook, and all you could find was pictures of your older siblings? Your parents had professional photo shoots for the older brothers and sisters, but the only pictures you could find of yourself were only a few snapshots in the back of the albums.

6. They know how to push your buttons

The teasing never ends when you’re the youngest of the family. Your siblings know exactly how to make you angry, and they will constantly do so even after you throw a meltdown.

7. They're always on your case

You don’t get any privacy as the youngest. Your siblings always know what is happening in your life. You constantly think of new ways to keep your life private, but it always fails.

8. The oldest sibling gets priority, and you get hand-me-downs

You usually get your way in most situations, but when it comes to big items, seniority rules. You have to act like this doesn't hurt you. When doesn't the youngest sibling get their way?

9. You’re thankful to have them by your side

Through constant unjust battles, hair pulling and stealing clothes, you are more than thankful to have great role models to look up to. No one messes with you because they have to go through your older siblings first.

No matter how many hairs are pulled, skin is broken, or clothes are stolen, siblings always stick together.

Cover Image Credit: Erica Wriedt

Related Content

Facebook Comments