It is there in her face for you to see before you even learn her name, or her favorite food. Before you find out that she loves jewelry and shoes and tights and dresses and little hollow plastic balls that double as fake boobs, you already know that she has Down syndrome. The shape of her beautiful blue eyes rats her out.
Every thought you have now about her is modified by that fact. Your brain does its fabulous work of classifying her based on what you know about it. What she does that fits your schema for Down syndrome will be tucked away under, “They are all so...” and the parts of her that crack the mold will become inspirational fodder stored under, “Aww, despite having Down syndrome, she ...”
Can you imagine having something about you that was so obvious, and so pervasive, that you were unable to develop an identity apart from it?
How can she develop her individual identity when no one can see her as a person, period? No one. Not even me sometimes. She is a person with Down syndrome. You see a person with Down syndrome. Every single thing she does is relative to Down syndrome.
I don’t want to raise awareness about Down syndrome.
I want to raise awareness about being human, about having a personal identity.
I want you to forget about Down syndrome.
I want you to look at her. I want you to see her.
Let her develop her identity separately from her chromosome count. Accept her as fully human.
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