Why We Have Such Great Expectations for Our Son With Down Syndrome
When you bring a child with Down syndrome into the world, I believe you are instantly equipped with an amazing ability. You’re suddenly aware of a global underground fitness craze you never knew existed. And it’s everywhere — hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools, playgrounds, theme parks, the grocery store, you name it.
It’s called Jumping to Conclusions.
It seems everyone but you and a select few clued-up people are doing it. And it makes you redden and sweat buckets although you don’t practice it. It makes your heart palpitate and the veins in your temples throb in anger and frustration, wondering what child they’re talking about because all that jumping and concluding does not apply to yours.
When you have a child with Down syndrome, you will learn volumes about accepting difference, and still more about how every child really does develop at his own pace, his own journey drawn by him and no one else. And he chases it. By God, he chases it with his arms trying to embrace the sun, the wind blowing his cheeks red, his feet tumbling over one another at whatever pace is called his own. He chases it with all he is because it is in him. Because he is being raised to understand that if he wants it, if he works for it, it is his. Just like everyone else. He knows he can achieve, and he knows we believe in him and will not let the detractors drag him down. He knows we entirely have his back.
Yet they try to break him, saying no, no. Not you. You aren’t. You can’t. You won’t.
Still all the negativity and erroneous conclusions in the world will not stop him, because he is. He can. He will.
Do not dare persist in underestimating him.
Despite what the Jumpers want to believe, the signposts of goals and achievements for everyone in this life do not match one another. They are not equidistant, and they are all too often not even pointing in the same direction. All human roads bend and loop and sometimes wrap clean around themselves before coming out the other end. Sometimes they come to a dead stop and start back up again. Sometimes the paths meet up along the journey, hinting at similarity, the whisper of a reflection gone as quickly as a raindrop dissipates pond water into concentric ripples.
He will rise and the Jumpers will fall. Their conclusions inaccurate, their assumptions flawed, flimsy, lazy. Their expectations of him miniscule. Sometimes nonexistent. Given with barely a breath.
“But he has a learning disability,” they say. “We don’t expect him to go far.”
And you reply no. Maybe he’ll go work in a theater company, or perform in a symphony or work in IT. He will go as far as he works to go. The only conclusion you are allowed to reach is that he is the master of his own fate. You and your statistics are not in charge of him.
Here on the cusp of age 4, we expect so much more of our son than does everyone else because we have seen his intellect and his drive and his passion deliver his progress. We have witnessed him think and process and experiment. Great human beings deserve great expectations. We would not dare cheat him with less.
And so our goals for our son are simple: soar. Find your joy and embrace it. Find your passion and deliver it. Find your road and own it. In your time, in your way.
We follow his lead. We watch this clever little boy who is taking a little bit longer to stop and smell the roses on his journey. Every day he is fulfilling his unique purpose — a singular and boundless opportunity to be magnificent. Just like everyone else. One day he will look back from his place far ahead in this life and may indeed feel pity upon those who once pitied him. Pity the small-mindedness.
Dare I say I would cheer.
They can jump clear into the sky and conclude ’til they run out of guesses. We expect our son to blow their minds and we know he will — we’ve already seen it. Perhaps they should stop jumping now, take a seat, stop concluding and pay attention.
It’ll be a wonderful sight to behold.
Follow this journey on Down in Front, Please.
Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!