Friday, February 27, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

I have been thinking a lot lately about the issue of Down syndrome children being mentally delayed and I have accepted the fact that my son may be mentally delayed. The degree of delay, if any, remains to be seen and we will cross that bridge when we get there. For right now, that doesn't factor into how he is treated by the ones who love him and I would hope that it would not be a factor in how people treat him in the future; however, I realize that may not be the case.

But there is one question that keeps coming to mind which is what is so wrong with being mentally delayed? We often times act like it is unacceptable to be mentally slower than the majority. On the other hand, we sometimes act like it is unacceptable to be mentally faster than the majority. Do these people not enjoy life as we do? Yes, they may have to settle for more service oriented jobs with less pay and are often limited in career achievements, but is that so bad? Does being smart equal being happy in life or does being mentally slow mean a life of unhappiness?

I suggest that the answer to both questions is no. We are too often led to believe that in order for a person to be happy in life, the person needs to have x amount of education and make x amount of money, live in a nice house in an upscale neighborhood and this and that. After a while, it becomes a rat race just trying to accomplish all that we are to accomplish to be happy only to find dissatisfaction once we have "arrived".

When Joy and I first became aware that John would be born with Down syndrome, (in the first trimester of pregnancy), we both prayed that the Lord would bless us with a child able to relate with God and people. At this point in John's young life, he is very able and desiring to relate to those around him. As a matter of fact, it sometimes seems that he would rather relate than to do anything else. John draws people to him with his smiles and bright blue eyes. He has the ability to make a person smile and forget about the stresses if only for a minute.

This ability is what changes lives for the better, not the intellectual ability. Our lives have been changed forever by his ability to give love and we look forward to many years of the same. He may not graduate with honors or go to college or even learn to drive but I don't think that will stop him from showing love to those he meets.

...sometimes it seems that he has a better understanding of the priorities of life than I do.


Monica said...

Your John is such a cutie -- what a smile! I totally agree with your post -- my John Michael oozes love and makes everyone around him smile.

Lovin Mama said...

John has such an infectious smile. And I agree with everything you said. I want Goldie to have a happy life by her standards, not mine or anyone elses.

NayNay said...

Your comments remind me of watching YOU grow up. you were so loving and caring about everyone around you - no matter how everyone else was behaving. You have never let others attitudes/comments keep you from overcoming any obstacles in your way. John Austin has YOUR loving spirit - it brings back many precious memmories of my little brother!!!! Love you! Nay

Lisa said...

Jay, great post. And I think you're definitely onto something here. I think too often, people's value is determined by how smart they are and what material things they accumulate, what places they go to, etc. Not what really counts: what's on the inside . . . what a person gives and receives in the way of love, compassion, acceptance.

For me, yes, it bothers me a great deal to know that Finn will be intellectually impaired to some degree or other, but mostly because I have a pretty good idea of how he will be treated by the world around him because of it.

Jeanette said...

I know that Sydney will be delayed, but to what extent we will not know for a while. I do know that we are staying on top of DS research to learn the best ways to teach our kids and will do my best to give her every advantage I can. That's what I can do as a mother. I just spent four days with some amazing self-advocates and have learned that the world is becoming more accepting. I think honest dialogue with each other is very important and I am glad that we are not alone. Jay, I appreciate your point of view and am glad that I have the opportunity to keep hearing/reading it. John is a gift to the world... and he has already been appreciated by those that he has touched.

Monica said...

I love this post!!!! I couldn't agree with you more. And the pictures are too cute!!!