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My Daughter With Down Syndrome Wakes Up Laughing


Did you wake up laughing today?

My daughter did, just like she did yesterday and the day before that, and the day before that too.

Did someone tell her a joke? There’s no one else in her room. Did she remember something funny she saw the day before? Perhaps. I’m not sure.

Maybe she was thinking about the bus journey to school and how bumpy it feels as she rides, strapped into her wheelchair. Or maybe she was thinking about the funny songs the Music Man sang to her when he came to her class; especially that one about the pirates — that’s funny. Or maybe it was the sheep on the farm she visits, or the goat that jumped on the trampoline with her one day. Whoever heard of such a thing?

Maybe it’s the strange plaster casts on both her legs that she currently has to wear. They do look kind of funny, I suppose.

She cannot give an answer. Though she is nearly 8 years old, she has no words, and right now, only laughter.

Sometimes she is sad. Sometimes she is grumpy. Sometimes she is in pain. Sometimes she is tired.

She has a range of emotions — just like you, just like me. But because she is nonverbal she has to express them differently.

But laughter, chuckling, giggling, rib tickling, snort inducing, full on raucous belly laughter is very often her first emotion of the day. I’d love to know what makes her laugh.

Did you wake up laughing today? Or did your thoughts turn immediately to worries? Fears of the future perhaps, or just concerns about the day ahead. So much to do, so much to accomplish. What ifs and what abouts firing off in all directions in your head before your feet have even hit the floor.

My daughter woke up laughing.

My daughter has Down syndrome. Many people think her life is not worth living. They think she would be better off not being born. They called her life a “risk.” They said she is “abnormal.” They spoke as if giving birth to her was some great tragedy.

Funny that.

Getty image by Den Kuvaiev.