Your Face Value

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I was shopping with Wil and his sister, Elizabeth, today. When we are out in public like this, it’s very evident how people pause when they see Wil, but not when they see Elizabeth, or his other sister, Katherine.

In witnessing these pauses over time, I’ve recognized a few different types:

1. The pause with a stare. It’s practically written on their forehead: “Does he?” Once they satisfy their question, on they go.

2. The long look at Wil then a sympathetic glance at me that speaks, “oh, that poor, little boy has Down syndrome. I’m sorry, mom.”

3. The look at Wil, then a big smile spreads across their face, and they lift their head to look me in the eye with this smile still on their face. I can read “he is adorable” written across their forehead.

Of course, #3 is my favorite. They get it. They see Wil as the adorable boy that he is.

#1 and #2 tick me off. It’s not the curiosity that is the problem. Or, that not everyone is going to find Wil as adorable as I do. What gets under my skin is they are seeing Down syndrome, but not a child.

If the #1 people saw a child, they wouldn’t shy away. If the #2 people saw a child, they would see no need for sympathy.

Of course, Wil does have Down syndrome, and he has certain Ds traits, and he does some things a little differently than his typically developing sisters do. However, Ds does not make him any less of a child than his sisters are.

Once people start seeing Wil as a boy first, that is when he will be valued for who he is, and what he has to offer. If he is seen with Ds first, all people will see are his limitations.

Please, if you have found yourself in #1 or #2, I have one simple request. See all kids as kids. If you have found yourself in #3, bless you.

All the best,

Christie

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