Today is World Down Syndrome Day. I had a great time celebrating by taking a book that I wrote about my daughter into her classroom to read it to her classmates and teachers. It is a simple book with lots of pictures that I wrote when she was 4.
The kids were so sweet as they sat to listen. I read about things that she had been through and how some things are different for her and how some things are very much the same. The kids almost unanimously liked all the things my daughter liked in the book. It was fun to share.
At the end, I asked if there were any questions and nearly all of the questions were about how I had put the book together. One boy even wanted to know if I had drawn the pictures (they were all photos). Down syndrome was clearly a secondary thing. I had been told by another mom that this was how it went for her too so I actually wasn’t surprised. I think kids just like the idea of putting a book together to tell a story.
In the book, I explain somewhat what Down syndrome is (at a young kid level). Even so, there was another question. A boy asked at the end, “So, what’s Down syndrome?”. I love that her classmates don’t have this “label” for her and I also love that today, they learned the term. Kids are smart and I think it is good for them to have words for their observations.
I tried to express to the boy that it is kind of hard to explain exactly what Down syndrome is and I asked him how he would explain to someone what “brown hair” is, what it means to be born with brown hair. He kind of chuckled and seemed to realize what a task that would be. I just briefly mentioned that Down syndrome leads to some of the characteristics that I had previously talked about such as that she has to work her muscles really hard (hypotonia), she has to practice things more, and she might look a little different.
My daughter’s teacher then had a great question for the class too. She asked if anyone learned something new or found out something interesting that they’d like to share. And, the class was back to the pictures as a girl said that she thought “It was very interesting to see, um, the picture of her at the beach. It was a very cute picture.”.
I was glad that I had brought in a spare copy of the book with the pages all loose and I passed the pages out and the kids all got a chance to look at the pictures more closely. They were great at sharing and asking for a page to be passed that they hadn’t seen and they made such sweet comments about what they saw. My daughter was even in the mix with her classmates passing pictures of herself and looking at them again.
I am grateful to feel like my daughter is in a good place. She’s just one of the kids in her class. I hope you had a great World Down Syndrome Day too.