Monday, January 27, 2014

What Do You See?

When you look at this face
What do you see? What words would you use to describe this picture?

How about this one?

Or this one?

Do you see children or do you see Down Syndrome?  If you've been reading here for a while, or know us in real life, I mean REALLY know us, I bet you see children...beautiful, soulful, sometimes naughty, joyful, perfect-as-they-are children who have so much to offer. I can tell you, sadly though, that too many people that work with our girls (professionals such as doctors, specialists, and therapists) see Down Syndrome. Is that a problem? Well, yes it is when they only see Down Syndrome. They see it first and foremost and allow that one factor to identify my children. First of all, that's really unfair. Yes, we're all guilty of making snap judgments based on someone's appearance, but for some reason so many professionals have a hard time seeing past Down Syndrome at all...they have difficulty seeing my children for their beautiful and unique hearts and souls. They have difficulty believing that my children understand everything happening around them. They hugely underestimate my children's abilities and feelings when they only see Down Syndrome. They work off a preconceived notion that people with Down Syndrome are somehow "less"....and that is a very slippery slope (a slope of which I may be at the bottom passing out free punches to the nose...kidding! kidding!, sort of).

I've been dealing with some professionals lately whom I have no doubt think I'm off my rocker. They think I'm making things up about my children's abilities because they could just never in a million years believe that someone with Down Syndrome could be capable of thinking/feeling/doing the things I say they may be thinking/feeling/doing. Some have even questioned aloud or asked me to prove that my child can do what I just told them they can do (or even in one instance questioned results of cognitive testing that was done saying surely that must be a mistake because people with Down Syndrome must ALWAYS have huge deficits in cognition, right?). If they'd just take time to get to know my children and look past Down syndrome, which is really only a very tiny part of who they are, maybe they'd see them as CHILDREN. Maybe they'd see the value and worth and beauty that I see. It becomes such a big problem when people can't see past Down Syndrome. It makes me really very sad, both for my girls and for those people. It makes me sad for my girls because with one look, their facial features associated with Down Syndrome "give them away" so to speak. They don't stand a fighting chance when up against people with preconceived and incorrect notions of the abilities of people with Down Syndrome. And you know what? My 2 and 5 year olds shouldn't have to try and prove their worth to anyone. They are worthy just for being themselves. It makes me sad for those people that they'll never see the gift that my children (and other people with Down syndrome) are to this world.

Here's the moral of the story. At the end of the day my job is to help my children find and develop their God-given gifts. My hope is in teaching them to shine their lights bright, others will see them for who they are, but sadly that hope has been trampled so many times already in their short lives.  I just want so badly for others to see my children as PEOPLE first. Beautiful little people who have likes and dislikes, strengths and needs, JUST LIKE THE REST OF THE POPULATION! I have a dream that one day the world will understand that our daughters' worth does not lie in their strengths or needs, but in the fact that they were created beautifully and perfectly, just as the Lord intended. I have a dream that people will be able to look at my daughters and see PEOPLE and not a diagnosis.

What do you see?

22 comments:

  1. I see beautiful, determined, smart girls and one awesome mom!! Keep advocating for them. God will continue to use and your daughters for his glory!

    Lindsey (Sacramento, CA)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Truly? I see 3 beautiful precious little girls who are smart, active, loving, funny, creative, sometimes naughty, often nice just like all children are precious --and deserve that same respect and the same chances in life! I'm sorry there are people out there that are judging and/or underestimating your sweet girls based on a diagnosis. NOT fair and I know it must be hurtful to your heart and their daddy's. Those girls of yours are going to continue to SHINE in spite of those caught up in ignorance and judgment!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautifully written. I see beautiful amazing fighters who have overcame more then any of those people can even fathom

    ReplyDelete
  4. I see three beautiful little bees, full of hapiness and love !
    I often look at your pictures and completely forget about there difference...
    And you are right, they are capable of soooo much ! Sometimes I am jaleous of what young DS adults can do... my handicaped daughter is far behind ! (of course all DS are not the same)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I see three little girls with a big smile.

    And love in their eyes

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hugs to you Sarah! I have been reading your blog since you brought Zoya home. I see your girls as beautiful little girls - I often forget that they happen to have Down Syndrome. It is so sad that you are dealing with some providers who can't see past the DS. Keep fighting for them!

    Carole

    ReplyDelete
  7. I can say that thanks to your blog and your beautiful girls and all that Reece's Rainbow has done I see BEAUTIFUL BLESSINGS and not a diagnosis! Your girls are bright, determined, sassy, fun, loving, hilarious, unstoppable, adorable and PERFECT the way they are. You are making a difference- hang in there and keep fighting for your little treasures :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. LOVE THIS. It absolutely irritates me when someone casually observes my 5 year old son with DS and says something to the effect of "Oh, bless his heart, he understands what to do!" Or when I am allowing him to be independent in a public situation and make his own decisions, people may think I am crazy and then watch him like a hawk, sure that he is going to do something "abnormal." Hey, I get it. If you are inexperienced with individuals with DS, you probably don't know what to expect. But professionals need to KNOW, and get their act together. Wonderful post! (Although for some reason the pictures are not loading.)

    ReplyDelete
  9. This post really touched me & I have so many things I could say on this but I will try to narrow it down. I can only imagine your pain & hurt at having to continually deal with people that only see the Down syndrome when they look at your gorgeous girls BUT I think I can safely say that most if not all of your blog readers see them each for the beautiful, unique, amazing people that they are. I know that they have blessed you & your husband beyond measure & always will. I know you are the lucky ones. That being said, you are such a powerful influence in making a difference to how people see your girls & anyone with Down syndrome especially, but also other challenges. Keep up with the blogging & sharing because I KNOW you are changing people's perceptions all the time. Unfortunately, you're always going to have to deal with people that don't see your girls as the people they are first, but be strong & tough & let them know one by one just who your little girls really are. You ARE making a difference everyday that goes far beyond being an amazing Mom to those little sweeties. You & your girls are changing minds & hearts ALL THE TIME! I love reading your blog. I learn so much & it just makes me happy. You & the 3 Bees just keep on being AWESOME!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I see 3 BEAUTIFUL little girls! To be honest, I don't see down syndrome....I see happy, cute....adorable girls who are capable of soooooo much!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think your girls are amazing and beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I think your girls are amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think your girls are amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I see beauty and His light..in their faces AND in this post!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sarah and Shaun, I am so sad to read your latest post. I know the signs of DS but to be perfectly honest I have difficulty seeing them in your sweet daughters as I see them as well nurtured loved little girls who excel at what they do. Sure they have deficits, don't we all? It is really difficult for me to believe that those in the medical field say such cruel things and doubt what you say, but they obviously do. As a former practicing RN I was told and practiced that parents know their children the best and one must listen to what they say and believe them. Please try not to get discouraged and use this blog to vent your frustrations as your readers are hear to listen. Next time a person doubts what your say or what the girls do tell them to read your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I see three very spirited little ladies!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I see 3 little girls! That keep their parents busy and happy. As a mother of a special needs child professionals do not always know it all. As a RN I have taken my child out of the care of some professional that don't have a clue.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I see three sets of deliciously sweet cheeks that I just want to kiss!!!! Perfection if you ask me!!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. When I see those faces, I see Fiesty, Fierce, Determined little girls who will no doubt change the world:)

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am so inspired by you. I look at Reese's rainbow all the time. There is a beautiful baby girl on there right now- Maureen. I wish there was a way I could adopt her.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I see pure happiness! You are a beautiful family and I don't see DS...I see three beautiful happy thriving little girls.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I see three very happy little girls, not DS, but three beautiful, happy, thriving little girls! What an awesome family...thank you for obeying the Lord's call on your lives.

    ReplyDelete