There are so many misunderstandings regarding Down Syndrome. For example, a lot of people might think that having a sibling with Down Syndrome might be a burden. Some might think that it’s ‘unfair.’ In fact, having a sister with Down Syndrome has not only changed me, but has made me a better person.
Growing up, I had always known that my sister, Dominique, had Down Syndrome. I didn’t really think it was that different. I was so used to her and I treated her like anyone else. Growing up, whenever my family and I would be out shopping, at the movies, or out to eat dinner, people would always stare. No matter what we did, there were always people staring, locking their eyes right onto my family or Dominique. I used to get pretty upset when I’d see this, but now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten used to it. It was only natural for people to stare because they were seeing something that they weren’t used to. When we were younger, I remember having to defend my sister a lot at school. I’ve even gotten into a fist fights with snotty girls who would make fun of other kids with Down Syndrome!
I can usually tell how much people know about Down Syndrome by watching their reactions after they find out that my sister has it. Some people don’t understand that it is a disability that you are born with, you don’t accquire it as you grow. Surprisingly, a lot of people don’t know what DS is, this is when I have to explain to them.
Down syndrome (or Down’s syndrome) is a chromosomal disorder caused by an error in cell division that results in an extra 21st chromosome. The condition leads to impairments in both cognitive ability and physical growth that range from mild to moderate developmental disabilities.
When people find out that I have a sister with Down Syndrome, I always get the response of ‘Oh that’s so sad,’ or ‘Oh my gosh, she’s so cute!’ I find it strange, actually annoying, to hear that response 99% of the time. Having my sister be reduced to the stereotypical image of a ‘cute’ girl with Down syndrome kind of bothers me. It bothers me because she is SO much more than a ‘cutie.’ My sister is in her twenties and she is very independent. She takes care of herself, she cooks, she cleans and can do almost everything a ‘normal’ person can. She sings, dances, plays guitar and has goals and dreams just like everyone else.
Did you know that 97% of children who had a brother or sister with Down syndrome felt pride for their sibling and that 88% of kids also said they felt their brother or sister with DS made them a better person.
I get asked a lot, “What would things be like if she didn’t have down syndrome?” Honestly, It’s a thought that has truly never crossed my mind, and probably won’t at any point in time. I don’t even think about that and I will never regret my sister being like this. I’ve had so many laughs and memories with her that I couldn’t even imagine how my life would be if it were any different.
My life is forever impacted having Dominique as my sister. I don’t know who I would’ve been if it wasn’t for her. Dominique has taught me to have empathy, and the meaning of values. She’s taught me to be a better person and, even if she doesn’t know it, she’s taught me so much about life in general. I can whole-heartedly thank Dominique for teaching me all of this. They teach you to have compassion, to enjoy life and to be kind to one another. Children with Down Syndrome can be a blessing in disguise.
All in all, You just have to remember that it’s just an extra chromosome!