Sunday, September 18, 2016

Is intellect a barrier to relationships?

To a lot of people and maybe to me in some degree me before John came into our lives, John and people like him were viewed as a burden, someone who could not contribute to society. John will probably never be known for his intellect or will probably never be a profound speaker. 

But when I observe John and how he interacts with people and them with him, I am humbled at his gift of relationship. A few things I observe with John is that he doesn't compete with his words or experiences when talking with people, because there is nothing he is trying to prove to people except maybe the fact that he loves to play cars and that he wants to be friends. It really doesn't concern him that the person is smarter than he is or that your vocabulary is larger than his. The color of a person’s skin, length of hair, whether or not they have tattoos or piercing or the clothes they wear does not change how he interacts with people. He sees everyone through the same lens and everyone as having the same potential for friendship and a playmate.

So it saddens me when I see people brush him aside when he attempts to make someone his friend. It makes me sad for John, but even sadder for the other person. For getting to know John comes with more blessings than anticipated. And it is this unconditional love for people that John and others like him have that can teach all of us "normal people" who have the ability to think deeply about things a thing or two about relating to others. I often think that one of the reasons for John being a part of our family is to show us what LOVE and ACCEPTANCE look like.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Share the Love

Before we had John, we were not really aware of people with Down syndrome. Of course we would see them out and about in the community with their parents or see them as patients, but there was no reason for us to get to know them on a personal level. At that time in our lives, they were just kids who were to be kept at arms length mostly because of fear of people who didn't look the same as us and some out of misunderstanding of Down syndrome and some out of just plain ole arrogance.

But then...we had John and we were forced to change our attitudes and our hearts.Thank the Lord that we had 8 months to prepare for him. The change didn't come instantly and is still ongoing today. But I can say that our hearts and priorities have changed. And I can see where John has been used in the lives of others in the 8 years that he has been with us. John and I'm sure other children with Down syndrome are the most loving and forgiving individuals that I have ever met. He loves me unconditionally and his memory is short even when I mistreat him. And that is the kind of love that we all long for and need in our lives. So I share him with others as much as I can by exposing him to others just like I did with my others. There have been many people come through the doors of my home (mostly teenagers with my other children) and all have gotten to know John whether they wanted to or not.

These same people have returned time and time again over the years and we have seen them include John in their outings and play with John and hug on him. The more I see this, the more I realize that one of the best things that I can do as John's Dad is to share him. Share him with others because we all need the type of  love that John so freely gives.

So rather then be embarrassed or ashamed of your son or daughter with special needs, be proud of them and share their ability that God has given them - the ability to LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Teaching John

It has been a while since my last blog entry and we have entered into a new phase of life with Down syndrome since then. Life seems to be a continuous period of adapting to life with Down syndrome as each day brings a different set of challenges. Each parent of a special needs child has to navigate the waters of raising a child with special needs the way they see fit, and each set of parents chooses to do it differently. Being both medical people who are familiar with Down syndrome, my wife and I chose from the beginning to fore go the states admonition of how to help and teach our son, and to personalize our help to John's needs.

John is now 8 years old and is in 1st grade which has brought many challenges. But we are facing them head on and with determination of giving John all the tools he needs in order to learn as much as he can. We know that there are limits to what he will be able to learn, but neither we or anyone else can tell us where those limits we push, prod, tutor, read, play with marbles, raisins, count our peas, chicken nuggets, etc until we find the ceiling to his abilities.

Thus far, John has surprised us as to his abilities. Just as I have stated before on this blog - people usually rise to the challenge they are given. If people aren't challenged to move toward a goal, then they won't reach the goal, but if we set goals and challenge them to reach those goals, we are surprised at their achievements.

So we keep on challenging and loving him for who he is and we pray for him that the Lord would strengthen him and guide John. Because we know that God has a plan for John's life.