World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated every year on March 21st, or 3/21. Fitting because an individual is diagnosed with Down Syndrome when they have three copies (instead of the typical two copies) of the 21st chromosome. Down Syndrome International recognizes the day as one to “help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities”. Many people in the community, myself included, tend to happily celebrate the day and celebrate Down syndrome itself. I feel like there is so much to celebrate. So much to celebrate? If I was reading that statement before my child with Down syndrome entered my life I think I would have a hard time understanding what that meant. Why would one celebrate the difficulties that often come with Down syndrome such as intellectual disability, health issues, and delayed development? I’m not necessarily celebrating those particular aspects of Down syndrome, but I’m celebrating what they have taught me – perspective on what is truly important in life. Those issues can be big ones, life changing, and they have taught me what to worry about and what not to waste my energy on. That is only one of the many reasons why I’m celebrating on World Down Syndrome Day.
I’m celebrating having risen above a difficult diagnosis and having become stronger because of it.
I’m celebrating that Down syndrome is not scary like I once thought.
I’m celebrating the feeling that I am so lucky to have this unique individual a part of my family’s life, this individual that I often find myself staring at in amazement.
I’m celebrating the joy my child brings me and my family, thankfully, when there was once a time where when I first learned of her diagnosis all I could think was that our lives were ruined.
I’m celebrating the unique physical Down syndrome characteristics that make my toddler so cute – her almond shaped eyes, her tiny ears and nose.
I’m celebrating the new friends I’ve made since entering this community, friends from as close as a few blocks away to as far as other countries.
I’m celebrating the diversity that Down syndrome brings to the world.
I’m celebrating the education my daughter brings to strangers on the street who may not know much about Down syndrome but then see her and interact with her and realize that she really isn’t that much different than any other child.
I’m celebrating the advancements that have been made related to Down syndrome such as inclusion in schools and longer life span thanks to medical discoveries.
Most of all I’m celebrating that I am happily on my own unique parenting journey and that Down syndrome is a welcomed part of it.