Why I Believe Down Syndrome Awareness Month Is More Important Than Ever


October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and as a mother of a child with Ds and also a blogger, I feel like I’ve been failing by not mentioning it yet. A lot of my friends in the Down syndrome community have been great at posting daily facts on Facebook. Others have dolled up their profile pics with blue and yellow, the colors connected to Down syndrome awareness.

But, I’ve sat silent.

The news of the world has left me speechless. I am in awe of the hate that exists, today, in the year 2017. How in the world can I write about Down syndrome at a time like this?

But today, it hit me, maybe that’s exactly what I need. Maybe that’s exactly what we all need.

Down Syndrome Awareness Month is all about educating people and promoting acceptance. Acceptance is love. Love fights hate. That’s exactly what this world needs right now.

At the age of 4, my daughter, Willow, has has been loved, welcomed and accepted by most people she has encountered. I want to believe that will continue to be the case as she grows, but I know we live in a scary, unpredictable world. I don’t ever want to let fear silence me, especially because I know she’s watching me.

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So today, in honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and in the name of love, I offer three things I think are great about my daughter — and perhaps other people with an extra 21st chromosome:

1.  Willow is a fighter.

From the minute she was born, my little girl has had the odds stacked against her, yet she pushes on. She’s battled heart problems, health issues and horrible stereotypes and statistics, but she’s still swinging. I find it ironic that Down syndrome is characterized by low muscle tone or hypotonia, because almost every person with Down syndrome I’ve met, including my daughter, seems to possess a superhuman strength to overcome.

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2. Willow is adventurous and some might even say borderline mischievous.

Proof, she’s just a typical toddler. I love that my 4-year-old acts exactly as a 4-year-old should act. She likes to pull pranks, like pretending to want a hug from her daddy, then running away right before he moves in. She likes to bug her siblings, she likes to play with her baby dolls, she likes to say “mommy” a gazillion times a day and she likes to bug her siblings (I thought I’d mention this again because she really, really, really likes to bug her siblings…so OK…I guess I just mentioned it three times). Willow is always up for a new adventure and I love that about her. She is a bundle of fun. An extra 21st chromosome doesn’t make her any different than her peers when it comes to her love of a good time.

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3. Willow is love.

This is my favorite thing about Willow. She is almost always up for a hug. In fact, her favorite bed time routine is “group hug time.” She calls every member of our family, by name, to her room, and then puts out her arms for a giant huddle of a hug, or as she calls it, a “gug.” Willow loves to love on people. She loves to smile. She loves to dance. She is love. Now, by no means does this mean that Willow is happy all the time. That is a huge misconception about people with Down syndrome. But, Willow has a huge heart that loves purely and honestly. She knows how to live and love, that’s for sure.

In my mind, this world could use a few more Willows.

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