All children with Downs Syndrome are the same… right?
How wrong can this statement be. If you said somebody was Italian, French, Right handed, left handed, tall, overweight etc you wouldn’t automatically put them in a box. One characteristic does not define an individual, we are far more complex as human beings than that; so why are people with Downs Syndrome defined as such and certain assumptions and stereotypes adopted.
Ok, I agree there are certain “physical characteristics” which immediately group people with DS. If you saw somebody with DS walking down the street, 99% of the time you would recognise the condition. However, to say that ‘they’ are always happy, ‘they’ are always laughing, ‘they’ are always so loving is so inaccurate and I think that we are in a better position than most to vouch for that.
I don’t necessarily mind when people are talking about Abigail and/or Isobel in this way as long as they are being specific to the girls however if they are speaking about them in the 3rd person and addressing ‘they’ almost as if “ANY” person with DS then I get a little defensive.
Abigail and Isobel are so different in character and it is often easier to identify them by behaviour rather than looks. Abigail is far more comfortable in her own company, she will occupy herself for hours on end with her own games and activities, Isobel on the other hand is so demanding of anybody that will watch and engage. Isobel loves being the centre of attention, performing, dancing, shouting “Hiya” at passers by. Abigail is far more introverted.
Abigail is stubborn, she tends to be the slower to develop in things such as walking, signing etc. The doctors put this down to her hearing impairment, I am sure it is because she wants to do it in her own time. She took her first steps on New Years Eve but then it took her a full five months to actually try again. Isobel took one step, then two and then that was it, she was off; practically in the space of 24 hours.
Don’t get me wrong they get on like a house on fire and compliment each other so very well. Abigail is happy in Isobel’s shadow but god forbid you give Isobel something without reciprocating it to Abigail. Isobel will be the angrier of the pair if she senses any kind of unfairness.
I think if anybody was to spend an hour with the girls they would see that Downs Syndrome is a characteristic and not a label. I urge you all to think of the bigger picture when it comes to Downs Syndrome… see the person… see their achievements… consider THEIR feelings and attitudes rather than pre-conceived beliefs… they are as individual as each and everyone of us xxx