There is one thing I for sure know – people with Down syndrome can love like no one else in the world. They are able to see some things that us “typicals” cannot. They have an unconditional and unfiltered kind of love we are not able to give because of the conditional way we grew up learning to love one another – I love you because this and that, not just I love you because you are a person like me.
My brother has Down syndrome and autism, and he has the same social boldness Emma does, without the ability to speak to them. We will walk through a store and he will want to high-five everyone he passes (especially the pretty girls). It’s hard for me to imagine looking a stranger in the eyes for longer than the socially accepted second and a half as you pass, but people like my brother and Emma are so willing to brighten another person’s day with a simple conversation or a high-five in my brother’s case.
We probably have seen thousands of people in our lifetime. With life moving so quickly, it is so easy to get swept up with it. Our society is so fast paced and superficial today; it is so important to have people in our lives like Emma and my brother to remind us that every person we pass has a story and a past that we are not aware of. Every single person on this planet is a real person, someone to be reached and appreciated. From the guy sitting at the table next to me here at Starbucks, to that person in the car you see every morning on your way to work or school.
The airport is such a great example of all the stories grouped in one place. The elderly gentleman on your right is going to visit his grandchildren he hasn’t seen in three years, or the young girl in front of you is going to visit her best friend from college she hasn’t seen since graduation. That family over there is traveling to see the child they are about to welcome into their family through adoption for the first time. One time, I was flying back home from being with family in another state, and I met one of my favorite bands in the gate next to mine (shout out to Judah & the Lion).
Down syndrome used to be called Mongolism, which is where the Chinese word for Down syndrome comes from. It was changed to Down syndrome in 1965 after Dr. John Langdon Down. Dr. Down originally termed the anomaly mongolism in the 1860s while he was practicing medicine; it was used as a shortened version of Mongolian idiocy. Later, it was changed to Down syndrome because of the racial issue of using the person term of Mongolia. It was not China to term the Down syndrome mongolism, it was Dr. Down of England, our founding country.
People with not just Down syndrome, but there are some really special people with different intellectual and physical disabilities that are able to see the world in the most amazing way. They are able to see every person for who they are. They are exceptionally perceptive, and are extremely empathetic.