Tuesday, October 27, 2015

DSAM: Siblings Sound Off

Kaleigh's hand written submission for this blog. Published here unedited.

On this 27th day of Down Syndrome Awareness Month I wanted to look at Down Syndrome from the perspective of the Sibling. Blake is lucky enough to have 3, flanked by 2 sisters with a big brother to watch over the group.

Did you know? In 2011, Dr. Brian Skotko found in study conducted at Children’s Hospital Boston, “among siblings ages 12 and older, 97 percent expressed feelings of pride about their brother or sister with Down syndrome and 88 percent were convinced they were better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome.” (see reference below).

I have said many time's that Blake being born with Down Syndrome is making my children more compassionate, empathetic, helpful and kind human beings. I asked them to communicate, in their own words their feelings about Down Syndrome, Society and their little brother Blake.

Kaleigh Rain, 7 Years old:
"Kids that have Down Syndrome are just like regular kids. There is nothing wrong with having Down Syndrome. Blake and I like to dance together to music. We also like to play outside. Blake is very good at art. Blake sometimes gets a little dirty and everyone needs an extra bath.
 We like to laugh and wrestle. As sister Kaleigh I have to stick up for Blake. Blake has fun at school. I love him even that he doesn't even know his name yet and everyone is different. I hope you will be nice to kids and grown ups with Down Syndrome." 

Danica, Age 13: 
"My baby brother has Down Syndrome. Many people thing Down Syndrome is bad and that but they're just like any other person. My brother Blake is just like any other kid, he's fun, sunny, caring, sweet and so much more, I enjoy having him as a brother so much, he has brightened my life since he was born. I have had so many memories with him that I will remember my whole life.
He makes me remember what it was like to be younger and how I just wanted to do what I wanted to do and how much I loved my family. Blake has shown so much to me. I may be the older sibling the one to be an example but he showed me things that I didn't know before like I didn't even know what Down Syndrome is before I found out Blake had it. I didn't think any different of him, he was just like everyone else. When my step mom and my dad told us what it was I still thought Blake was normal. I'm so thankful to have my little brother Blake and can't wait to share many more memories with him."

Dylan, Age 17:
"Don't let Down Syndrome change your opinion on a person. I have watched my little brother grow up for 4 years now and he is still just as loving and kind as anyone else if not more.

 He excels everyday just as any other kid does. I'm positive hes just as smart as children without Down Syndrome in his age group. I wish people wouldn't put titles on people like my brother. 
His life is just as important as mine or yours. Never judge a person just because they have a so called disability, it doesn't change who they are."

When I look around I see the impact that Blake and every other member of the Down Syndrome community is having on the lives around them. They are contributing to the lives of people in their community, classrooms and those closest to them, their siblings. I don't think that my children would have changed their answer in any way if asked by another person. I love that they are considering the impact's of labels society places on people and how a label, like disability does not change who you are. An important life lesson for any child. I am so proud to be raising such loving advocates and allies!

Further Reading:
Skotko, B.G., Levine, S.P., Goldstein, R. (2011). Having a Brother or Sister with Down Syndrome:  Perspectives from Siblings.  American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A: 155:2348-2359.

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