Well yesterday was World Down Syndrome Day and I didn’t get this post done. I was really trying to decide what I would write. My baby sister was born with down syndrome. I say baby sister but she is 18 years old now, 18, oh my gosh. She is way too grown up. I was 8 years old when she was born and I had no idea what it meant when they said she had down syndrome. It didn’t really matter to me I was just excited to have a new baby sister and play mother.
For those of you who don’t know (and I will admit I looked this up to make sure I got the technical details right) down syndrome is when a child is born with 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. This causes both physical and mental delays. Each child can have a varying degree of different problems associated with down syndrome. My sister was born with a heart defect and had to have open heart surgery at 6 months.
I once did a speech, in college, educating people on down syndrome. I really wish I had kept it because I remember it being pretty interesting. I do remember talking about little idiosyncrasies that children with down syndrome have. My sister is terrified of indoor house plants. She won’t go near them.
My little sister is the joy of our family. She keeps us all together because she’s always begging us to come home and visit. Then we arrive, she says hello and goes off to do a “show” meaning she sings in her room with a microphone, very loudly. She loves to watch TV, something that we have in common. She loves to swim, we are going to the beach next week and I bet you she will be in that water even though it will only be about 72 degrees at the most outside. She has a wonderful group of friends who are a hoot to watch together. She loves spaghetti and french fries. She can easily convince any one of us to buy her a burger and fries just with an adorable look. She is always smiling and happy. She can always tell if I am upset and is always concerned about everyone.
If you’ve never known anyone with down syndrome then you are missing out, they are sweet, kind and loving. Sure they may be different than us, but that is what makes them so wonderful. So remember that next time you see someone with down syndrome who is bagging your groceries or clearing your table and give them the same smile back that I am sure they will be giving you.