(Daniel, an 8-year-old with Trisomy 21, writes and hosts his own forum at The Baby Blogs. His mother, Nicole, posts his work for him on her space here at TOI. The following is his writing.)
We were in the last moments of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, October 2018, when our family learned that the “awareness” of Trisomy 21 has spread to the animal kingdom!
It was on this day, Oct. 31, 2018, when Lucas, my younger brother, asked whether animals could be born with Down syndrome. Then he let us know that one of his many stuffed animals did, in fact, have Down syndrome.
Lucas matter of factly revealed this bit of information in the midst of one of his extremely lengthy soliloquies, the bane of the overly-verbal (as opposed to non-verbal) child. Upon hearing the news, mommy felt a mess of emotions ranging from amazement and elation to tears stinging the backs of her eyelids. But she tried to maintain her composure and meet this revelation with the same delivery in which it was given. Just the facts.
In fact, Teet has always had DS, but Lucas, who is 6, only just recently became aware of the diagnosis. Mommy asked how he didn’t know about this before. The reason – because Teet, who is a duck (or a chicken, no one is quite sure which), knows how to do “all the stuff like his other toys.”
Mommy went into full tear suppression mode and delicately probed further.
How did you discover that Teet has DS? Lucas said it was during a play session with his toys’ doctor, another toy, and the doctor told him that Teet was a Down syndrome baby. Yay! Lucas said, a Down syndrome baby!
Lucas, my dear younger brother, is a quick learner of lessons he doesn’t even know he is learning. Amazingly, despite our huge differences, we are largely the same to him. At least that is Lucas’s perception, the one that he was inadvertently raised with.
But Lucas wasn’t done processing this information. He raised some other questions: who is Daniel going to marry when he grows up? It is going to be harder for him to find a match, Lucas surmised. And will he marry someone with Down syndrome, or not? Of course, we also don’t know who Lucas or Raia will marry, Lucas readily admitted.
So really, all our fates are uncertain which makes us more … the same!
Even though apparently he knew about Teet’s “condition” for awhile, Lucas only just mentioned it, because it just wasn’t a big deal. But it goes to show that he has a healthy and much needed approach to “different” and to life in general, one that should be spread to all corners of the earth, all year long, not only during awareness month.
And with this diagnosis of Teet, the duck/chicken who has Down syndrome, mommy and daddy got a bit more oxygen to their tired souls and, for a moment, could say that perhaps their constant battle for “inclusion” is worth the effort.