October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. The "31 for 21" graphic below symbolizes a challenge whereby bloggers with a connection to the Down syndrome community do an awareness post for each of the 31 days in October (The "21 represents "Trisomy 21" - a.k.a. Down syndrome - defined by an extra chromosome on the 21st pair).
Knowing how busy my days can be, coupled with the fact that I'll be out of town and away from my computer more than usual this month, I cannot promise to do 31 days of blogging. However, I am committed to putting forth my best effort to raise awareness about Down syndrome during October and every other month of the year so here goes...
True or False: Down syndrome is a chromosomal defect characterized by an individual having a third copy of the 21st chromosome.
My big sister, Leanne
And anyone who answered "True" can come take it up with me!
Merriam-Webster defines "defect" as
a: an imperfection that impairs worth or utility : shortcomings in our foreign policy>
There is nothing about my sister (or my daughter) that impairs her worth, completeness, adequacy, or perfection. She is exactly the way God made her and she is perfect just the way she is.
My daughter, Josie
I don't claim to be a Down syndrome expert but I do have a lifetime of experience thanks to my big sister and this much I know for sure: People with Down syndrome may have a few characteristics that make them different, but they are by no means defective.
Leanne's life is no less valuable because she learns at a slower pace. The beauty that Leanne brings to this world cannot be measured by how she learns but rather what she teaches. She has taught me what is truly important in life - to see past superficial characteristics and to love others for who they genuinely are. Leanne approaches people with unconditional acceptance. She doesn't care how flawless your complexion is or what type of designer jeans you are wearing. She doesn't care what type of car you drive or how much is in your back account. She's never approached an individual with the attitude of "You'd be so much better if you could only change ___ about yourself".
This pureness of heart is something that I could never come close to achieving, but she reminds me to try.
I believe being around people with disabilities is as close as you can come to God on this earth. I truly do. And that is why I feel blessed to have experienced Down syndrome in my life.
It is not a defect. This much I know.