A Life Lesson From My Son for Down Syndrome Awareness Month

At age 3, David didn’t walk; he scooted.

He could sit on his behind and motor those crisscrossed legs across a wooden floor faster than many people could walk. Kids tend to wear out the soles of their shoes, but not David — he wore holes in the seat of his pants and on the outside canvas of his high-tops, all the while keeping the triangle pattern on the bottom of his shoes completely intact.

Did I ever worry that he would walk? Sure.

Did it ever make me sad? Certainly.

Many parents have these hopes for their children, and I’m right there with them.

That was 17 years ago.

a boy with down syndrome running in a track meet

Did David finally walk? He did. Before his next birthday, David was up on two legs, and soon after that he started running. In fact, by age 5 he loved speed so much that when I brought him to a store or mall, he would run. He ran everywhere. He would race around the park. He would run during school — and not just during recess, but out the door of his classroom and through the halls. He constantly raced all over our house.

When he ran, he not only smiled — he laughed out loud. His absolute joy and delight saved me from being frustrated that I had to continually chase him down and find him. As a middle-schooler, he ran competitively on his school’s track team, and he now runs with his team competing at the local and state levels.

I share this glimpse into his life during Down Syndrome Awareness Month to celebrate the unique life experience of raising a child with a disability.

It is my hope this story will be a reminder of one of the life lessons I learned from parenting David: “It may take a while to learn how to walk, but when you do, you might start running — and when you do, always do it with joy!”

Lead image via Thinkstock.

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