My Adult Sister Has Down Syndrome

People naturally fear the unknown. When we don’t understand something, we steer away from it or sometimes make fun of it. This month is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Imagine being in the position where you are an adult, yet a waiter asks another adult for your order. Imagine being an adult and having well meaning adults telling you what you needed to do health wise. Imagine people whom you dearly love being ashamed of you. My sister, Krista, was born with Down syndrome and has been in all of those positions. As a sibling, I didn’t fully understand what that meant when I was 16 years old. If I had known what a blessing she would be then, the fear would have subsided quickly.

My parents didn’t know how to educate Krista. They didn’t know that funding was available to assist her. But they knew she was their daughter, so they raised her just as they raised my sister Karen and me. They offered us all every opportunity to capitalize on our interests. They held us all to high standards and they expected us to be highly educated. We all had braces. We all took music lessons. Krista can play the piano, the violin, she reads well, takes copious notes about subjects she is interested in and she has never met a stranger.


According to the National Down Syndrome Society, Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition in the USA. One in every 691 babies born in the United States is born with Down syndrome. Unfortunately, there are still many myths concerning people with Down syndrome. The vast majority of people with Down syndrome lead very productive lives, taking advantage of all the educational and social opportunities afforded to them. In other words, they are not that different from you and me.

This year, I was very fortunate to be named the principal of the C.M. Scott Center in Oxford. We have several young men and women at the Scott Center who have Down syndrome. They are an incredibly gifted group of children. They are tech-savvy, they have incredible dance moves, they continually achieve and they bring delight to those around them.

Now imagine what it would be like to be featured in “People” magazine. Imagine how it would feel to do the ribbon cutting for over 30 houses built for people less fortunate than yourself. Imagine how special you would feel if you were a calendar girl. Are these all things I have accomplished? No, but my sister, Krista, has.

All of us at one time or another will be touched by someone who has Down syndrome. Embrace them. Get to know them as people, not as a syndrome. You will be the better person for bringing these people into your life. How delightful an experience that could be!

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome Diagnosis: A Father's Perspective

Many mothers share their stories about having a child with Down syndrome. I asked myself, why aren’t fathers sharing their stories? My wife and I have three kids: Becky, who is almost 5, Gabu who is 3 and a half, and Emma who is 8 months old and has Down syndrome. We didn’t know Emma’s condition [...]

I Adopted My Daughter Who Has Down Syndrome

In the beginning, I think people questioned our decision, or at least they were concerned. Some of their concerns were valid, but it wasn’t a choice we made without thought. When we saw her picture, we instantly fell in love. There was a moment we didn’t know if we were going to be able to [...]

Today, My Daughter With Down Syndrome Said Her Name

Today, my daughter said her name. You might not think this is a big deal — kids who are almost 3 years old say their names all the time. But my daughter hadn’t yet. My daughter is a beautiful, smart, loving little girl who has Down syndrome. And like many people with Down syndrome, she struggles [...]

My Mental Health as a Parent of a Child With a Disability

Parenting is a challenge. No matter how many happy photos we post online, we all know that somehow, somewhere, each of us is struggling with one aspect of child rearing or another. It may just be a temporary struggle, but everyone has their problems. It’s the reality of parenting. Parenting a child with a disability [...]