The other day, the li’l Drama Queen comes home from school with her ‘pitara’ of stories which mind you, are endless. But I encourage her to share so that I know what happens with her in school when I am not around.
She went onto describe how a girl in her class was not behaving properly and a couple of other kids were discussing about it. I happened to pick her up from school when her teacher mentioned that the girl had Down Syndrome.
I was taken aback a bit but kids do tend to get insensitive. After talking to her I realised that she had no idea about what Down Syndrome was and why such kids sometimes behave differently. I had to choose all my words carefully to explain this to her. Instead of reprimanding her, I decided to do some research about the syndrome and I planned how to explain all that to a 6 year old. After reading up enough, it was obvious that the only way I could make any impact on her was by showing her a video which I found online which explained beautifully about Down syndrome and how the kids who have this are not disabled but special and differently abled.
The Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City has put together a wonderful 13-minute video,Just Like You, explaining Down syndrome, including some basic facts about chromosomes.
I also read some inspirational stories about parents who have children detected with the syndrome and how these parents are so special themselves. The immense strength, love and the grace depicted in most of their experiences was very heartwarming.
I really feel all the other kids at school could be made aware about Down syndrome. Kids are often curious but polite and standoffish for a reason as they are unaware how to respond and deal with such situations. Apart from videos, books can be the perfect way to start healthy conversations about it.
WonderbyR.J. Palacio for older kids, focuses on physical disability in a meaningful, universal way kids can really relate to.
Taking Down Syndrome to School (Special Kids in School)This beautifully illustrated and fun-to-read storybook can help to simplify and normalize such conditions for the younger lot.
A vocabulary lesson may also be in order too. Down syndrome is not a disease. You cannot catch it. It’s a chromosomal condition. We have 46 chromosomes. They make up who we are as people. Mom and Dad both give us chromosomes; we get 23 from Mom and 23 from Dad. These chromosomes decide how we develop and grow, how we act, if we will look like Mom or Dad.Children with Down Syndrome have 47 chromosomes. This one extra chromosome makes them special. Their eyes are almond shaped, nose bridge is flatter, ears are smaller and the mouth is shaped differently, the tongue is a bit bigger which affects their speech. It might be harder to understand them because they lack some muscle strength and the inside of the mouth is shaped differently. They will do all of the same things you do, but it’s going to take them a little longer.
They have same feelings, just like you, and they love playing with friends and laughing at silly jokes. Having the extra chromosome just means that they have to work a little bit harder at some things. Some school subjects might be a bit more difficult for them and some will be a little easier.
Always remember that different is beautiful. We were all made to not look like each other. We are all unique. If we all looked identical or if we all liked the same subjects and played the same sports, life would be boring.
Children and adults with Down syndrome are just like you and me. We are all beautiful, we all have our own gifts, talents, weaknesses and strengths.
Be kind to each other. Be a good friend. Include others. Reading or learning about a disability is a great way to further understand a child’s experiences. It may also help dispel any questions you or your child may have.
If I could just impart some empathy in my child regarding them maybe she could find a wonderful friend in her in the future.💕
This post was first published here.