Today is my younger brother's birthday, he is 21. In honour of his birth I will be discussing a condition that is very important to me, Down Syndrome (DS).
My little brother has Down Syndrome. It is a condition present even before birth. There are prenatal tests to assess the possibility that a fetus has Down Syndrome. What does it mean? Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition where there are too many copies of chromosome 21. Babies can be born with any number of chromosomal abnormalities or mutations which result in infinite possibilities. Down Syndrome just happens to be the most common.
The effects of Down Syndrome are typically mild. They might take a bit longer to learn something but once they do, they don't forget. Most people with Down Syndrome function quite normally in their day-to-day lives. They have responsibilities like working and cooking but they also share meaningful relationships with those around them.
It's funny to think that something so simple can affect someone so much. I'm not necessarily referring to slower cognitive abilities but the attitude surrounding their condition. What makes me particularly sad is the fact that mothers who carry a baby with DS often choose to abort. That sort of attitude only reminds me of other narrow minded beliefs such as aborting female babies because males are more desired. Of course I do believe in the right to choose but I'm hoping that choice is not based on something as superficial as sex or DS.
My mother was aware that my little brother had DS and chose to keep him. I could not be more grateful. He has brought more light and love into our lives than anyone ever could. He is sweet, compassionate, thoughtful, wise and most of all, funny. He is my favourite sibling by far (and I have 5). What hurts me are the attitudes and behaviour of others. However people find out my brother has DS, the reaction is usually the same, judgement. They'll make a sad face and tell me they feel sorry for me, going on about how it must be hard. The only thing that's hard about it are their reactions. They shouldn't feel sorry for me because in all honesty, I pity them.
They don't know the joy and love my brother shares with everyone. They don't know what it feels like to be unconditionally loved no matter what. He doesn't judge, he doesn't hate, he isn't negative and he'll always be on your side. How many people can you say that about? None? The vast majority of people are just the opposite; they're quick to judge, they hate easily, they get down on themselves and everyone around them, and you can forget about them being on anyone's side but their own. I wouldn't call that "smarter". I would say that they're more susceptible to human fallacy.
Therefore I put forward that my brother is smarter than the average person. In fact, I wish more people were like him. Perhaps then this world wouldn't be so filled with hate and fear. The next time you see someone different than yourself, stop yourself from judging. Everyone makes snap judgements, the trick is to find where that judgement is coming from. Is it coming from a place of knowledge or fear of the unknown?
If you ever have the pleasure of meeting someone with DS, don't be awkward. They're people, like you and me. They have feelings just like we do. The best thing you could do is be yourself. Honestly, as a general rule, you should never stop being yourself.
I would like to recommend one of my favourite books about DS: Our Brother Has Down's Syndrome: An Introduction for Children by Shelley Cairo. It's short and sweet, offering a simple explanation and concluding in a similar fashion. I'm very lucky to have such a fantastic brother.
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