What My Son's Gift for His Sister With Down Syndrome Taught Us All


“I don’t think Jaycee could ever play a musical instrument,” my son declared as we drove home from his guitar lesson.

Rather than getting defensive about his thoughts towards his sister, I decided to ask him for more information. “Why do you say that?”

He responded, “Reading music is hard, and I don’t think she could do it.”

“You are right about reading music. That might be hard for your sister because of her Down syndrome, little speech, and difficulty learning. But, there must be some musical instrument she could play. Can you think of one?”

A minute went by. My son could think of nothing. I decided to help him with, “Well, I think she could play the triangle.”

“What about the tambourine!” he exclaimed.

We both thought that was a good idea, and came up with a few more instruments that might work for Jaycee’s abilities. Then Elijah decided he would get Jaycee a tambourine for Christmas. He was so excited, and I thought it was a great idea. This gift would give Jaycee a chance to develop some musical talent just like her brother.

A few weeks later, we went to a music store to purchase that tambourine. Jaycee was with us, since we had seen one of her doctors earlier in the day.

Elijah enthusiastically looked around the store, trying out guitars and other instruments that made me nervous. We finally made our way to the tambourines to pick one out.
At the same time, Jaycee made her way to a drum set. She sat down, took the drum sticks, and said, “Uh, oo, ee, ou!” (1, 2, 3, 4.) Then she banged out a stellar drum solo for a novice. It was funny and eye-opening.

With his sister’s tambourine in his hand, Elijah asked, “Can we get Jaycee a drum set for her birthday? She seems to like it.”

“Well, I’ll have to think about that,” I told him as we walked toward the checkout. 

I initiated this shopping trip to teach my son about how Jaycee could be included in his hobby. I left the store realizing that Jaycee showed us just how much she could participate when given a chance.

As for the drum set, we’ll discuss that after some soundproofing!

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