A Little Something Extra

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 5 of 31 for 21 - Disposition

(This is a photo from April, but I remembered it after the Micah's hand post and thought it was a better shot of what his hand looks like. It also shows off his single transverse palmar crease, another occasional feature of Down syndrome. And the photo also shows how adorable his hair is... do you think it's screaming for a short mohawk?)
Jodi's question: "It seems like most ds kids/people [*see end of post] I meet have a sweet disposition and that they're very open and trusting. Have you noticed that and what do you think is behind that?"

This one is a bit more difficult for me to answer. I'm certain to offend someone in my answer. It's close to being a touchy subject for some in the Down syndrome community. But the way Jodi asked the question doesn't bother me. The annoying phrase is, "Oh, they're all so loving/happy/sweet/etc." which is quite a generalization. Jodi's personal experience is what she's asking about. I'm not sure I can answer it well, though. Because it will be my personal opinion, not based on medical facts (which I'm much better at!).

So... in my opinion... (and it is just that, folks... an opinion), I think it's because many individuals with Down syndrome do not feel confined by "social norms" as much as the general population. They know what love means and they express it when they feel like it. There are different types of intelligence. I wish I had time to research that right now, but alas... I'm tired. I know I read some sort of research lately on this (any of my fellow bloggers remember who posted that?).

Honestly, Jodi, I haven't spent much time around teens or adults with Down syndrome, so I am not sure how to answer your question well. But my opinion about your experience as it relates to individuals with Down syndrome being trusting... I think that's because it's YOU that they're trusting. I've heard that many individuals with Down syndrome are perceptive, so they might just realize you're a person worth trusting. :-)

* Educational opportunity - I'd like to lovingly request "people-first language." I might do a post on that later this month. But since it's here, I thought I'd add it now. It's a bit more cumbersome to say, but the prefered language is "individual/kid/baby with Down syndrome" rather than "Down syndrome individual/kid/baby." Think of it this way... you wouldn't refer to someone's child as their "leukemia kid." I think the same goes for autism, though I don't know if the autism community has as big of a push for people-first language as the Down syndrome community does.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on educating Nathan about Down syndrome (it will be a short post!).
Please keep the questions coming!


Kelli said...

First of all, Micah looks absolutely adorable in this picture! Go for the short mohawk...we've been doing it with Colin even though his hair is MUCH shorter and it just looks so cute!

I loved your explanation of the question because this is often a comment or question that is often said/asked of me. I like educating, but it is really hard sometimes when people refer to Colin as a "Downs baby". He is Colin, who just happens to have Down Syndrome...

Thanks for your explanation!

Angela said...

Jennie- I think that your explanation, "I've heard that many individuals with Down syndrome are perceptive, so they might just realize you're a person worth trusting" - is absolutely right on. I think that, in fact, many people with down syndrome have exceptional emotional intelligence- probably far greater than the "typical" community. Don't want to say EVERY single person with down syndrom, because everyone is unique... but I have often thought that, as a generality, God has give a higher degree of - like I said- emotional intelligence to people with down syndrome. But I also don't know why people say, "they are all happy all the time." I don't have any family members with DS, but the people I have known in my life with DS are just that... PEOPLE... who experience a wide range of emotions just like people without DS.

In my own situation with a family member (my nephew) who has a disability (autism), I find that people are always placing generalities on him. Unfortuntaly, they are are not assumptions like, "oh, he's happy all the time." They are always negative assumptions :(

paige said...

oooh... i love how you answered this - 'there are different types of intelligence'.
i find that because we have heard the phrase, "downs baby" etc... for so many years, it will take time for the vast majority of people to change their language... It's so good to make that effort though, because it makes a small change in the way we think and feel when we change our language - & those changes need to be made.
Love the pic too - & the thought of Micah with a mohawk makes me smile, so i say go for it. He would probably love the reactions!

my family said...

Hi I jsut found your blog in the past couple of weeks and I have been "lurking" Today I had to comment on how stinkin' cute your little guy is, he looks like a little man, I love it! And I love your explanation too. I hope to keep up with your blog.

PS I dont think it is that people with DS means they are happy 24/7 I think they just don't stay mad, they are more forgiving and they are so much more pure hearted than "typical" peers ... don't you?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jennie! That's really interesting to hear. And I really appreciate the educational moment. I would never want to hurt someone by categorizing someone, yet I do/have. Thanks for sharing that and giving me/us and opportunity to be in your and their shoes. ;) I love you! Jodi