Cindy White

@ladypositive | contributor
Community Voices

Stepping Outside Our Comfort Zone

After seeing a TikTok of an occupational therapist encouraging parents of kids with disabilities, I realized sometimes we need to step across the invisible line of our comfort zone to encourage each other.

I have had the thought “What is the use of advocating?” because most of the people who see my blogs or publications are either parents of kids with disabilities or trolls. I sometimes feel that posts or blogs are basically members of the same community swapping similar stories of ignorant medical specialists pressuring us to terminate our pregnancy based on an extra chromosome and telling us what they believe our children will not accomplish in life.

We are indeed a community sharing something special in common — a child thriving with an extra chromosome! We also share beautiful, triumphant victories, both big and small! However, I have never seen one who is NOT a special need’s parent advocate and encourage one who is, until today. This video touched my heart in a way that made me realize how much we need to reach those outside our community and how much the ones outside our community needs to reach us. Is walking in circles within a comfort zone really making a difference? Advocating and sharing outside of our comfort zone may make us feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. However; like pottery, after leaving what is familiar and being put in the fire (aka what feels uncomfortable), we will be left stronger, more beautiful, and more useful!

Thank you to this young lady for sharing an encouraging word to us parents that endure guilt of feeling we may not be doing enough or question what we could do differently.

Our children are worthy of love, grace, and opportunities of being THEIR best

and so are we!

Cindy White

To the Momma of a Child With Down Syndrome

I know you’re trying your best. I know you’re showing up each day to take your child to various therapy appointments, even though you feel exhausted. I know you’re making tough choices for your family, even when you’re not sure if they are right. I know you’re working tirelessly, even when it seems never-ending. I know you’re doing an amazing job, even though you doubt yourself. I know you, momma, are more than enough. As a momma, I make mistakes because no one is perfect. I forget things from not calling my children by their correct name, to a simple word I’m trying to get out of my mouth but never do and end up explaining it’s meaning instead. I lose my cool because I’m exhausted at times from trying to serve, teach, mold and love the four children under our roof all while maintaining a clean and cozy home. I have three birth daughters and a foster son. Having two teenagers is a blessing. Having two toddlers with different needs is a blessing. My youngest birth daughter has “a little something extra.” She is thriving with the beauty of Down syndrome. Our precious foster son has needs that I can’t discuss, but they have to be handled with extreme care. I hold my two toddlers to sleep every night. Not because they are spoiled. Not because I’m wrapped around their little finger. Not because I’m being manipulated. I do it because I am their safe place. I do it because I am their momma, and they need me to comfort them, especially our foster son. So momma, whenever you’re feeling hopeless or not enough, hug your child. When you fall asleep wondering how you could’ve loved your child more, feeling guilty for blowing your top, or worrying what tomorrow will hold…kiss your child, even if they’re sleeping. It’s amazing how they remind us our life is always full of love, grace, and that we are given a fresh start every single day. Because I know you, momma, are more than enough and you’re doing a great job!

Community Voices

Time

<p>Time</p>
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Cindy White

My Child With Down Syndrome Is Healthy

What does a healthy baby look like? That is the topic that came to mind after watching a story shared on The Today Show yesterday about former Olympic gymnast, Shawn Johnson East, and her husband, Andrew East. They openly shared their pregnancy struggles and possible complications with their unborn child. While there were possible issues with this precious child’s kidneys and umbilical cord, tests were also done to check for Down syndrome. They stated if the tests came back showing their baby had Down syndrome, they would love that child more than anything; but, like any parent, they just wanted their child to be healthy. They also shared tremendous relief and rejoiced that their unborn child doesn’t have Down syndrome. This has many parents that have the privilege of having a child with Down syndrome feeling hurt. Many feel the couple’s vlog posts and how the story was presented on The Today Show insinuated that Down syndrome equals unhealthy. So many parents are tirelessly advocating to show what Down Syndrome truly looks like. It’s not scary or to be feared. There is beauty in an individual who has Down Syndrome and everyone has purpose. And I personally believe God created all of us in His image. As I watched the video the East family posted and after hearing negative reactions from my community, I honestly reflected on the time surrounding my youngest daughter’s prenatal diagnosis and a misdiagnosed heart condition.One doctor told us she could only see three out of the four chambers of her heart and an ultrasound technician told us without authority or sufficient testing  that my unborn child, Savannah, probably had Down syndrome.  The technician said this with my two daughters (12 and 10 years old at the time) present. With no knowledge of Down syndrome and feeling blindsided, I could relate to the East family’s emotions. What is the common denominator between us? Fear and ignorance. I actually prayed that God would heal Savannah after I found out about her prenatal diagnosis. I was numb and even said out loud, “I don’t want a special needs baby.” Does that sound selfish and wrong? Maybe. However, I was ignorant and overwhelmed with fear of the unknown. It took over my faith at times. Someone reminded me that God never makes mistakes. I believe He doesn’t, but I do make them. I was wrong… so wrong! That is why I blog and openly post about Savannah. I saw the light after being in the dark and am learning to give myself grace! Being a living testimony will show others that Down syndrome doesn’t automatically mean unhealthy. Whether one has Down syndrome or not, there will be and can be health issues ranging from an ear infection to cancer. “Health” isn’t based on an extra chromosome, race or our sex. Are children with Down Syndrome more of at risk for certain health issues? Yes. Just as women are more at risk for osteoarthritis, heart attacks and urinary tract infections, but this doesn’t mean women are “unhealthy.” My youngest daughter, Savannah, has Down syndrome. However, she was never in NICU. She never needed oxygen. She never had a feeding tube. She breast fed for three years. Savannah has never had an ear infection. However, Savannah did have open-heart surgery to repair an atrioventricular septal defect at the age of 1. Today, the physicians cannot even hear a heart murmur! To me, that shows how strong she is, not that she is “unhealthy.” The word that continues to infiltrate my heart and mind lately is “grace.” I am writing about the meaning of grace in my life presently, and it parallels with this topic perfectly. As many are upset from the reaction the East family showed and how Down syndrome was portrayed as “unhealthy,” let’s remember to give grace. Grace has been given to me over and over. As we give grace, let’s also continue to show all the beauty and love of individuals with Down Syndrome. With every post, with every community service, and with every speech we are able to humbly share, let’s continue to show love. Grace and love is what will heal what is “unhealthy” about how our society views Down syndrome.

Community Voices

Why Do I Share?

When I was 20 weeks pregnant I found out our 3rd daughter had an extra chromosome. I didn’t know anyone with #DownSyndrome, much less anything about it. I was ignorant. Ignorance promotes fear and fear promotes discrimination. Negative scenarios with a sense of hopelessness from our specialist only promoted the fear flooding my heart, mind, and spirit.  I only knew of Google and Web MD as a source of information. I have nothing against either one; however, there are no personal connections there. There are no living testimonies showing the beauty of Down Syndrome. There are no examples of differently abled individuals of all ages defying odds. There are no examples of families still living their best life after having a child with special needs! With that being said, God put in my heart a desire to be who I once needed to someone else. I blog, Savannah and I are ambassadors for AbleMeCharity/ AbleFinder, and I am one of many contributors for The Mighty . I want to educate as I am being educated and share a living testimony that all the things I once feared are being dissolved daily before my eyes. I am relatively at the beginning of this beautiful journey, but I am further along than some. To those not familiar with The Mighty, I encourage you to share and seek encouragement and inspiration through the brave individuals willing to open up their lives and share that living testimony so many need to see! I know God has amazing things planned because of the life of our youngest daughter, Savannah exists! I will keep sharing our journey through speaking and writing. I will continue to unite with fellow moms not only to advocate for our children, but to encourage and love when we ourselves need it. This is a beautiful journey, but it can be hard at times. I will keep an open heart and mind to any opportunity that may come our way to shout the worth of not only my children, but the many beautiful souls that may not be able to speak up and fight for themselves.

Community Voices

Marching To The Beat Of My Own Drum

“Marching to the beat of my own drum and loving what makes me different with no concern of what others think”…. THAT is what Savannah continues to teach me! As I closely watched and followed Savannah on the splash pad here on base, I had to interpret to other children what she meant when she would grab them and pull them without saying anything they could understand. I know her intentions and I feel frustration for Savannah when she can’t articulate what she wants to communicate to other children. I have observed her immediately hugging a new friend or grabbing them and yelling in excitement. I find myself immediately interceding and explaining what she is trying to do or say while reassuring her new friend. Yes, a typical toddler will grab a toy from another child and not want to share, but they are able to use words along with their actions. These moments are teachable, but it takes more energy and effort from us special need parents. These moments are important for all of us, but honestly, it can be hard emotionally. It hurts my heart to see Savannah not be able to use her words as easily as other children her age. However, Savannah doesn’t seem to be affected at this age. She doesn’t see differences. She sees other children and are naturally drawn to them.  She is so happy to be playing and observing other children. I watched with a full heart as Savannah excitedly observed another sweet girl that was about 7 years old, rest her face on her hands against a pole and count as other children scattered about. Immediately, Savannah mimicked her and began to count as well (in her language). This tells me how important the role of other children are to not only to Savannah, but to all others. We all have a purpose, no matter our age. Just as adults need to find “their people” and surround ourselves with positive influences and those that challenge us to be our best, children need the same. I have recently discovered an app that will help give Savannah just that! As we know,  the attention of children is captured more by other children. This app has children speaking and singing as a way to teach speech and communication skills! How fun is that?! I am beginning to add this learning tool to Savannah’s daily routine. Any victory takes effort and energy. Any victory isn’t without challenges, frustrations, and emotion. Any victory takes a village. That village includes other children and the important role they have in the lives of their peers. It includes other parents taking opportunities to teach their children that differences are a good thing. We would never learn and grow without them! So, as I continue to learn from my children, I will “March to the beat of my own drum and love what makes me different with no concern of what others think”.

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Community Voices

Marching To The Beat Of My Own Drum

“Marching to the beat of my own drum and loving what makes me different with no concern of what others think”…. THAT is what Savannah continues to teach me! As I closely watched and followed Savannah on the splash pad here on base, I had to interpret to other children what she meant when she would grab them and pull them without saying anything they could understand. I know her intentions and I feel frustration for Savannah when she can’t articulate what she wants to communicate to other children. I have observed her immediately hugging a new friend or grabbing them and yelling in excitement. I find myself immediately interceding and explaining what she is trying to do or say while reassuring her new friend. Yes, a typical toddler will grab a toy from another child and not want to share, but they are able to use words along with their actions. These moments are teachable, but it takes more energy and effort from us special need parents. These moments are important for all of us, but honestly, it can be hard emotionally. It hurts my heart to see Savannah not be able to use her words as easily as other children her age. However, Savannah doesn’t seem to be affected at this age. She doesn’t see differences. She sees other children and are naturally drawn to them.  She is so happy to be playing and observing other children. I watched with a full heart as Savannah excitedly observed another sweet girl that was about 7 years old, rest her face on her hands against a pole and count as other children scattered about. Immediately, Savannah mimicked her and began to count as well (in her language). This tells me how important the role of other children are to not only to Savannah, but to all others. We all have a purpose, no matter our age. Just as adults need to find “their people” and surround ourselves with positive influences and those that challenge us to be our best, children need the same. I have recently discovered an app that will help give Savannah just that! As we know,  the attention of children is captured more by other children. This app has children speaking and singing as a way to teach speech and communication skills! How fun is that?! I am beginning to add this learning tool to Savannah’s daily routine. Any victory takes effort and energy. Any victory isn’t without challenges, frustrations, and emotion. Any victory takes a village. That village includes other children and the important role they have in the lives of their peers. It includes other parents taking opportunities to teach their children that differences are a good thing. We would never learn and grow without them! So, as I continue to learn from my children, I will “March to the beat of my own drum and love what makes me different with no concern of what others think”.

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Community Voices

How May I Help You?

<p>How May I Help You?</p>
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Community Voices

My Daughter with Down Syndrome Has Purpose

After telling my two older daughters before they leave for school in the mornings, “As long as you have breath, you have purpose! Make sure you see everyone in a given room, and do something kind today!”, my words have become a running joke in my home.

With that being said; my husband, JR, will yell out the car window as one of the girls go into the school building, “You have purpose!” as to try to embarrass them. The girls will randomly say to one another, “You have purpose!” as they giggle.

Little do they know the truth and life they are speaking into one another, even if it’s said to mock their ‘picked on’ momma!

The truth is everyone has a purpose! My husband is not only a retired Army Chief, but He is a ball player. He was in a tournament this weekend, so last night my daughters and I drove up for his evening game. We sat right beside the dugout and I watched Savannah, my 3 year old daughter who has an extra chromosome, wave at everyone on deck! She continuously yelled “da-dahhhh!”, as she waved her little hand with pride and excitement.

At three years of age, this little girl has purpose! She waves at anyone passing her in any given place whether it’s a grocery store or ball field. She is the one who sees everyone in a given room. She has a tender, kind spirit and sees others with a non discriminatory love. She is an encourager and sees everyone equally… except for daddy yesterday…. he was a step above the others!

Thank you Savannah for continuously revealing what my own purpose is and what it should be.

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Cindy White

When Strangers Only See My Child's Down Syndrome Diagnosis

A friend I know from social media recently shared a conversation she had at the library for story time. She noticed a lady staring at her youngest child, who has Down syndrome. The lady said to her, “She’s Downs, right?” My friend responded, “Her name is Victoria and she has Down syndrome.” When you meet someone for the first time, remember they are not a diagnosis. We are more alike than different! Not only in this situation, but in others, many see those who have a disability or anyone who is different in any way as inferior. It may not be something they feel is true about themselves and would never admit to it publicly, but that subconscious feeling of viewing anyone who is different as inferior is there. That is why many speak to others without acknowledging their personhood and focus on a diagnosis. I say this, not condescendingly, but with insight because I have been guilty of these types of subconscious feelings myself. Advocating is key. While social media is fine and dandy, I believe many who don’t personally know anyone who has a disability see our posts and possibly say to themselves, “Awe, that’s sweet,” and keep scrolling. Our real progress with advocacy is when we have moments like my friend did in the library, with a personal contact. When we are given a moment to make a change in any given day, seize that moment! Carpe Diem with love and kindness! Henry Blackaby is a pastor and has a study guide called, “Experiencing God.” In this book, he says God is always at work around us. He invites us to join Him and it is up to us to do so. I believe that. Moments are given to us to make a difference daily. May I realize I have a mission field around me every single day. We can make a difference if we are willing to do so with love.