To the Family Member Who Questioned My Son's Diagnosis


You said, “I think your son must have autism because he’s too intelligent for Downs.”

To keep my shiny, brand-new resolution intact, I took a deep breath and tried not to allow my peace to be disturbed. You made me stretch myself to understand why you would say such a thing, so thank you for that.

Also, thank you for thinking my son is intelligent, I wholeheartedly agree.

Now to the heart of the matter so dear to my heart:

You cannot diagnose my darling’s Down syndrome (not Downs) away. He has it. He has delays. You cannot just whisk up your own facts, like calling him smarter than his typical brothers. The Peabody, his Apgar, and Bayley tests explicitly state otherwise. I know they do not capture his heart and incredible soul, and I wish with all of my being that this was the place you were coming from…but I am afraid you were not. I heard your hopeful plea behind the words, willing him smarter, excusing his cognitive disability by introducing another one, and even dismissing the tests by calling them names. You hide your fear behind your accusations and until you accept Down syndrome with all of its beautiful and challenging parts, you will forever be searching.

I don’t know if our son has autism. I know kids with Down syndrome can have autism, too. I know that leukemia and thyroid problems and diabetes and Alzheimer’s and hearing loss and a slew of other lovely issues that could accompany my sweet boy’s almond eyes. I also know his mommy and daddy are both teachers and work with kids who have autism every day. We are also more well versed than we ever wanted to be on symptoms for all of the above mentioned conditions. We will take it day by day, always remain hopeful, skeptical, and we will not speculate unless we see one of the many signs we know to look for. Please just love on our son. That’s it. That is your only role. It is an easy one.

Some people think you can have “a little” Down syndrome. You can’t. You have the chromosome or you do not. We came to terms with that fact three years ago when our boy was just a little nugget. We are fine with it. We are happy. There is no sadness in our lives that comes from having this little boy. The little boy that hugs us so tight it hurts and kisses us so many times we lose count.

Everyone he meets he greets with a warm smile a wave and a babble that means something to him. He wins hearts that way. He wins them every single place he goes. Maybe he is in fact more intelligent than the rest of us? Kindness does always prevail, after all.

I will always protect him, I will always advocate for him and I will always attempt to break down misunderstandings about his worthy life. I am not mad about what you said, nor is my peace disturbed. I believe I have the perfect children for me. I am privileged enough to bear witness to their incredible lives every day.

And my little boy with an extra chromosome? Well, his light shines so very, very bright. I sure hope you are not left in the dark and miss it.

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

Image provided by contributor

Related to Down Syndrome

Having a Child With Down Syndrome: It’s a Wonderful Life

I watch the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” every Christmas Eve with my husband. For the last six years, it’s been on in the background while we put together toys and get ready to play Santa for our daughter, Lila, and son, Lawson. When I was young, I hated that movie. A black and white [...]
John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich Signs Bill Banning Abortions of Fetuses With Down Syndrome

On Friday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill banning abortions in cases where a fetus has been diagnosed with or is suspected to have Down syndrome. Abortion would be prohibited even if Down syndrome wasn’t the reason the parents wanted an abortion. Under the law, aborting a fetus with Down syndrome would carry penalties for [...]
Boy with down syndrome working with speech therapist at home

My Son With Down Syndrome Is Brilliant

I was born into a family known as the “smart Harnetts.” Excellence in school was expected. Intelligence was a source of pride. And brilliance was of utmost importance. Twenty seven years later, my son Patrick was born with Down syndrome. I thought it meant he wouldn’t be brilliant. Anyone who thinks people with Down syndrome (or [...]
Colton Murray

Down Syndrome Ambassador Colton Murray Has Passed Away

Twenty-three-month-old Colton Murray, who won the hearts of those in the Down syndrome community and beyond, passed away on Saturday. Murray was an ambassador for children with Down syndrome. He appeared in the National Down Syndrome Society’s video that kicks off Down Syndrome Awareness Month in Times Square in New York City. He also appears [...]