11 People With Down Syndrome Prove They Experience a Range of Emotion


People with Down syndrome are often confronted with the false stereotype that they’re always happy. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being happy. But no one is happy all the time! In actuality, they’re just real people who experience a myriad of emotions and feelings. Joy. Heartbreak. Cheer. Grief. Just like everyone else.

To express this point, we asked our readers to share with us moments when their loved ones with Down syndrome experienced the raw emotions that life throws — at everyone.

This is what they had to say:

1. “Up to the age of 11 years old I’d seen my son cry when scared, sick or hurt but never from disappointment or sadness. Then, unfortunately, his paternal grandmother passed away from cancer. At the funeral home, Karl’s grandfather stood off to one side while the rest of the family stood apart. When they closed the lid and started the prayer, Grandpa started crying. The rest of the family stood lost in their own grief, but Karl, watching his grandfather cry, started to tear up too. He walked over and took his grandfather’s hand. Out of the whole family, it was Karl who did the right thing.” — Judy Pamer

Grandmother next to grandson

2. “My son, Joshua, who’s 28, gets really upset when people talk down to him. He can sense when people don’t think he can understand, and he’ll respond with, ‘Don’t talk to me like a baby! I’m an adult!’” — Stephanie Holland

Man wearing red sunglasses, holding a clenched hand over his mouth

3. “Ava didn’t walk until she was almost 3 years old, however my son, Michael, took his first steps at the age of 9 months. There happened to be a lot of family around when he did this. Ava was so jealous of the attention he was receiving. She said, “OK, OK, OK,” hopped off the couch and took her first steps too.”  — Maggie McKelvey

Girl sitting on the grass with fall leaves

4. “One time we gathered the family together to share the good news that Davis’ brothers were accepted into a private middle school they’d applied to. The process had been so much work; we anticipated a big celebration. We were shocked when Davis welled up with tears and rushed out of the room. His brothers quickly retreated, saying they wouldn’t go to the school if it made Davis sad. Davis said, “I wish someone else in this family had Down syndrome.” — Sharon Randall

Three young boys with arms around each other

5. “When our dad passed away, my sister, Amanda, was pulled into a bitter guardianship dispute between two of our siblings. She had to go through a painful court process that lasted for months. Through grief and tears, she helped me write her story, now published in ‘The North Side of Down.’  She has incredible courage.” — Nancy Bailey

Woman sitting on bench in the park

6. “There are some situations in which you just have to search for a silver lining. My son gets easily frustrated and can be rather impulsive. In addition, he loves to watch the TV at full volume. (Yes, really. FULL volume).  The rest of the family can only stand it for a limited amount of time, so my son now knows to ask if he can “Crank it for ten minutes.” Even so, there are times ten minutes is just not enough for him. And so, when asked to turn it down his impulse is to throw the remote — sometimes at the wall and sometimes at the floor. They just don’t design remotes for that purpose. I’ve become adept at putting various remotes (TV, Blue Ray, Roku, Wii) back together. That’s my silver lining;  I have learned a new skill! And a real appreciation for earplugs.” — Maureen A. Mills

Boy in red long-sleeved shirt sitting near door

7. “Jeremy, who is 22 months old, spends a good portion of his day happy. But every so often his world comes crashing in. In the picture below he was unhappy because the food wasn’t being served fast enough, and we made him wear this hat. Something interesting though, Jeremy doesn’t get upset when faced with a challenge, like a new gross motor skill, etc. He just keeps trying, I’ve never seen such determination!” — Erika Chwalik

Baby wearing Touchdown football hat and crying at table

8. “Pip gets mad, sad, sassy and moody as much as she is happy. Down syndrome doesn’t magically turn off her emotions. Whether her brother is having a time-out or, like in this moment when I yelled at her dog, she gets upset and sad. She has such a bleeding heart.” – Tara McCallan

Baby looks sad while sitting next to dog that looks sad on floor

9. “The pictures below are the before and after of Ellie’s reaction when her kitty, Lloyd, didn’t want to play with her anymore. In other words, she is just like any 2-year-old. And she also makes this face when we tell her it’s time for bed.” — Tiffany Stafford

Before:

Little girl on white chair in backyard, looking down at cat next to chair

After:

Little girl crying while sitting in white chair in backyard

10. “When my son, Kyle, was 2, our sweet puppy was hit by a car and died instantly. Later that morning Kyle walked over to his dog’s empty crate and looked bewildered. Even at 2 he seemed to understand something had changed. Then he saw my tears, and his face fell further. His little arms wrapped around me as he looked at me with concern. His empathy got me through that day.” — Katie Bee

Boy playing with toy in front of couch, next to dog

11. “My family really enjoys hiking in Montana, and we do not want to leave anyone out in the process. However, David, my younger brother, is not a fan of physical exercise. This can make the experience not so joyful at times and actually extremely difficult. He will sit on the dirt while hiking, begin to cry or refuse to go at all. This is probably caused by being out of his comfort zone and his dislike of physical activity. Regardless, this does not bring out a joyful expression from him.” — Laura Hertzog

Boy holding soda bottle next to no-parking sign

 RELATED: What’s One Thing You Wish People Knew About Down Syndrome?

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