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Everything I Thought I Knew Before I Met Down Syndrome

Dear Down syndrome,

I was so smart before I gave birth to you. I knew almost all there was to know about everything.

I knew books were pure knowledge and that a doctor’s knowledge knew no bounds.

I knew the Internet was a great place to find important, pertinent information.

I knew stereotypes were overblown and didn’t have to be harmful.

I knew the school systems in place were tried and true and that educators knew better than I do.

I also knew support groups were for the weak and more important, that I would never need one.

I knew there couldn’t be injustices in the world and that everyone was pretty much treated equally.

And I knew one’s own community should lead the charge without much room for trailblazers.

Since I gave birth to my son seven years ago, I’ve learned so much about you. I also know I still have a lot to learn.

I’ve learned that books aren’t always spot on — they might even be outdated.

I’ve learned that stereotypes are rarely criticized and yet always harmful.

I’ve learned that people who wear long white coats, carry clipboards and drive fancy cars aren’t always right or even sensitive.

I’ve learned that the Internet can be a struggle to navigate and a painful path to ignorance.

Because of you, I’m getting an inkling that the school systems and staff have some changing to do.

I’ve learned that support groups can be necessary to survive, and that I specifically couldn’t exist without one.

I’ve especially learned that there are many injustices in the world and that not everyone is treated equally.

And I’ve learned that in our own community, there is plenty of room for trailblazers, just like the one my son has proven to become.

So, Down syndrome, I want to thank you for teaching me and the world around us every day.

Who knew that in seven short years I could learn things it takes others a lifetime to learn.


Shawna Lochner

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The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.