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When Independence and Donuts Crossed Paths for My Son With Down Syndrome

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Teaching independence can be hard. But it can also be hilarious! And when independence and donuts cross paths, it can bring unexpected laughter!

Sometimes the lessons learned are surprising to all of us.

My son is gluten-free. My family is gluten-free. We follow this very closely when eating at home.

But, now that my son with Down syndrome has some new independence, we are finding many unexpected  “teaching moments” will pop up.

He mostly knows what gluten-free is and what it means. He knows how to look for gluten-free on the label. But, we are also realizing that we simply avoid many stores that do not carry gluten-free items. This list will include restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, etc if they don’t carry gluten-free items. We are realizing now that by avoiding these places, he is behind in learning about certain foods — what they are made of, what they taste like, and even look like.

So, today my son came home from Dunkin’ Donuts. He has started walking to Dunkin’ himself, will order his own coffee, and walk back home. He’s gotten really good at it, and even likes to explore and try new flavors in his coffee.

Today, on our front door camera, we could see that upon returning, he had two boxes in his hand, with his usual coffee. We couldn’t see close enough from the camera playback, to see what kind of boxes they were, or how big the boxes were-just that there were two white boxes.  But, we had a feeling we knew what they were. We tried not to get mad, we tried for it to be a “teaching moment” instead, but we didn’t expect to have to hide our laughter at his responses.

We got home and called my son downstairs. My husband went up to his room and searched, and found the two white boxes. They were what we expected — boxes for Dunkin’ Donuts. Gratefully, they were little boxes. The kind that mini donuts come in. Each box holds approximately six donut holes.

We sat him down and asked if he had bought donuts, he quickly said, “No.” He got upset with us when we said that we didn’t believe him. He was indignant. He stood up and said, “I’m telling the truth.”

We showed him the boxes and said that donuts were in these boxes -and he had eaten them. Eaten them all.

He said, “No, those were little tiny round things — not donuts.”

Bless his heart! He truly believed that donuts only come in the shape of a donut ring. In his mind, donut holes were not ring-shaped and didn’t count!

My husband had to leave the room. He could barely hide his laughter.

It turns out that he had first tried these with a friend, who ordered them last week. He loved them. Of course he did! But because they were in a shape that he was unfamiliar with, he did not realize that they were truly donuts, and they would have gluten in them.

While he took responsibility for ordering them, he also was super mad at his friend for introducing him to these sugar-filled yummy concoctions. It was hilarious to see his righteous indignation at his friend for not telling him. Oh boy!

Independence can be complicated, but also full of fun and interesting lessons to teach. And when independence and donuts cross paths, don’t forget to laugh and take it in stride!

Originally published: February 25, 2022
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