Down Syndrome Awareness: Selling Down Syndrome

During Down Syndrome Awareness Month, blogs and Facebook posts by parents of kids with Down syndrome are bountiful with praises of those with Down syndrome.  We boast about the achievements and accomplishments of our children, we write about all that they teach us and how much they enrich our lives, and generally focus on the most positive aspects of our kids who sport that extra something special.

I was going to do the same thing.

I’ve been drafting a blog post in my head for about a week, titled either “All About Finn” or “What I Want You To Know About Finn” (I hadn’t settled on one or the other yet). In my head, I couldn’t get past making a list of all of his positive qualities.  You know, to raise awareness.  Of how great my kid with Down syndrome is!

I finally realized tonight when I was in the shower (which is when I do some of my very best thinking) that I couldn’t bring myself to just sit down and write the damn post.  Wanna know why?  Because it feels like I’m trying to sell Down syndrome to you.  It feels like I’m trying to sell the world on the idea that, despite the fact that he has this condition, he’s a worthy human being, deserving of respect and kindness.

Here’s the thing:  I don’t want to sell you on Finn, or on Down syndrome.  Because it should just be a given that he’s a worthy human being, no matter what the state of his chromosomes may be.  It should go without saying that he’s deserving of respect and kindness no matter what he’s able to achieve (or not). Because he’s a person.  Just like you’re a person, and your kids are people.

In our house, in our family, Finn’s having Down syndrome is neither an extra special blessing nor a curse.  It just is.  To paraphrase and borrow the words of George Estreich, Down syndrome is just his way of being human.  Down syndrome is always present in our house, but its influence ebbs and flows.  We often don’t even think about it, and sometimes it’s the subject of a great deal of focus.  Sometimes its even the subject of humor.  Finn is a blessing because he’s Finn, because he’s our kid, because he’s human – not because of or in spite of his having Down syndrome.

Finn is smart and delayed; he’s happy and often crabby; he’s loving and sometimes annoying; he gives great hugs and throws terrible tantrums.  He’s a joy and a challenge.  He’s a kid.  He’s a son, a brother, a friend, and a student.   In other words, he’s a person.  And that should need no selling.

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19 Comments on “Down Syndrome Awareness: Selling Down Syndrome”

  1. Ruth
    October 15, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    I have just begun reading your blog and you state it so well that you don’t have to sell anyone on the worth of your child’s life. I dislike it when people have to attach some justification for their child’s existence in spite of their disability. Every child is a human being and unique and has the same human rights, they don’t have to have their life justified by what they can do for us, or show us, or teach us, they don’t have to do or be anything, they get to just live the same as the rest of us. I think your post was amazing. It expresses what I have been feeling for my adult child who has a mental illness disability and is transgendered, as well. Different disability than Finn’s but your points apply for any parent with a disabled child. Thank you for stating it so well for us, my child is just this person he is, it’s as simple as that. Nuff said, now we should all be getting on with living life and letting our kids live life.

  2. Anna
    October 15, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    what an awesome post! It’s so cool that you thought of this in the shower! I must take showers more often…

  3. Becca
    October 15, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Gosh, he’s cute!! I used to view my blog posts during Down Syndrome Awareness Month as having a target audience of “outsiders” to this big, friendly Ds “club,”and but this year I’ve decided that my target would be more towards new parents who may be searching for information, stories of older children, photos of their future lives. I rarely get outsiders visiting the blog, so why target them anyway? LOL

  4. aysjaysandayches
    October 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Such gorgeous photos! And such a great post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Sue
    October 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Yes, yes, and yes.

  6. Melissa R Smith
    October 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Thank you! Thank you for saying what I have been thinking for the past 2 years! I never want to really come out and say it for fear of being ostracized from the mommy groups! I could not agree more!!

  7. Donna
    October 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    GREAT post! I feel exactly the same way about my daughter.
    Love the pictures.

  8. Darla
    October 15, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Amen! This was just perfect Lisa.

  9. Yes
    October 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    “Finn is smart and delayed; he’s happy and often crabby; he’s loving and sometimes annoying; he gives great hugs and throws terrible tantrums. He’s a joy and a challenge. He’s a kid. He’s a son, a brother, a friend, and a student. In other words, he’s a person. And that should need no selling.” Damn straight.

  10. jen
    October 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    This is why I love your blog. You question everything – even things that are widely considered “right” in this community or that.

    Learning about the kids and families affected is what reduces stigma. I don’t think those posts selling the good about kids with DS are bad. Some people might connect with that.

    But, THIS post is better. The normality of it – that’s what people need to see most. Another fabulous post.

    • Lisa
      October 15, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

      Thank you, Jen 🙂

  11. Vonda
    October 15, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    A picture is worth 1000 words and well……..just one picture of him says it all. He is Finn, he was born EXACTLY like the rest of us, with just a little something extra and he is CUTE AS SHIT!!!! Nothing more needs to be said. sorry, but that’s just how I feel! 🙂

  12. Cheryl Tierney Kinne
    October 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    thank you Lisa, that is exactly how I feel about my son. I just don’t get things out as wonderfully as you do.

  13. Erin
    October 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm #


  14. Sheila
    October 18, 2012 at 1:40 am #

    Your post sums up exactly how I feel about the subject, but could probably never put into words. The last paragraph… precisely.

  15. Rob Arnold
    October 20, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    I completely agree that Finn and any person with Down syndrome should be valued and appreciated simply because they exist. We should not have to provide “qualifiers” to convince others. However, even though I agree, I do not personally spend a lot of time thinking about how things should be. It is a crappy reality that we live in a world full of ignorant ____________(fill in the blank because I could not think of an appropriate adjective to post on another person’s blog). Anyway, I am thankful for your post and perspective. From your pictures, it looks like Finn is a pretty cool dude. My son Treyton is 3 1/2 and has a lot of life in him. I see a similar spark in Finn’s eyes.

  16. Rachel
    October 20, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Love. Your. Blog.

    • Lisa
      October 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

      Thank you!

  17. Grace
    October 23, 2012 at 4:43 am #

    I really really love this post.

    It’s been pretty frustrating to see some of the Moms so readily embrace shaping those with down syndrome into one dimensional ~angelic~ beings for the sake of painting a pretty picture, with no consideration shown for those who have been fighting against those types of stereotypes and misconceptions their entire lives.

    The self righteousness and use of the abortion issue to justify it is really upsetting.

    Erasing anything negative from the narrative isn’t awareness, it’s injustice. It’s stripping an already marginalized group of their voices. Of their truth.

    I should stop before I get too far up on my soapbox – but yeah, *thank you* for writing this. ❤

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