Coping with a Down Syndrome Diagnosis-- A Twin's Perspective
Twenty-two years ago, on April 26th, 1996, my mother’s excitement after successfully giving birth to twins dwindled at my father’s words—“Our new baby Michael has Down Syndrome.” Her heart fell immediately. She kept on questioning herself, “why is one child sick and the other healthy?” Little did my mother understand how much of an impact my twin brother, Michael, would have on our family’s lives.
For this week's post, I was asked to share my recommendations on coping with a Down Syndrome Diagnosis. As a heads up, I myself have not experienced having children, or have had to hear a Down Syndrome Diagnosis first-hand. However, I hope that the perspective I share can help other flustered mothers who are still wrapping their heads around their baby's recent diagnosis. Especially for mothers who already have other children, I'm confidently writing this as a reassurance that those kids will be amazing siblings to the baby with DS.
Growing up, Michael became my best friend and companion. Although he lacks the ability to speak, we would play for hours every day, enjoying each other’s company. I learned acceptance at a very young age—it never bothered me when Michael would cause a commotion while in public, or that he cannot effectively communicate. My parents explained to me what Down Syndrome is and how severely it affected Michael, but I did not mind.
As a child, I still viewed Michael as a normal human being just like everyone else. I never questioned angrily why my brother had to be different. I simply understood. This state of innocence persisted as I grew older, and my love for him grew as well. Michael has easily taught me hard work, responsibility, respect, patience, and much more.
Growing up, I would always tell my parents that I would become a doctor and cure Down Syndrome. Little to my knowledge back then, there was a solution-- abortion. And I cannot be more grateful for my experience growing up with Michael.
As I grew older, I started realizing how essential the Down Syndrome community is for our society. I've constantly asked myself over the past few years after I have created my blog, "What is so important about Down Syndrome?" And it goes more than just the fact that people with Down Syndrome are "happier." Because they're not always happy. Those with Down Syndrome are just like you or me. They experience various emotions, but may just express them differently depending on their communication level.
I continuously seek for the beauty behind Down syndrome and why it's important to keep the DS community. Something that I've fallen in love with is the genuine kindness radiating from these individuals. Although Michael may not be able to speak, he's completely fluent in a more important language-- the language of love.
Michael demonstrates the same affection to everyone, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. And that's more of the attitude that this world needs. I am constantly inspired by the Down Syndrome community in their genuineness towards other people. Michael excels at demonstrating his affection towards others, and I know that he's not alone. Experiencing the world while living with someone like Michael reminds you to fully appreciate what you've been given in life, and to look at people with a more open perspective.
I have created this blog as a resource for the general community to get a glimpse in the life of someone with Down Syndrome. For mothers who are still coping with their diagnosis, I recommend looking through my blog. And not just at my own blog posts, but the posts that I have shared from others as well.
In Guest Waves, I have included the stories of others who share how their lives have been impacted by someone in the disability community.
In Other Waves, I have included other incredible websites that share the same goal as us. Each of them have impacted our community through sharing their own beautiful stories, and educating other members who may not be affiliated with our special community.
Lastly, in Resources, I am continuously seeking various organizations to include that may be of help for other families with loved ones in the special needs community.
As always, thank you for all of the continuous support with our blog. I am forever grateful for not only being blessed with having Michael as a twin my entire life, but for all of you who support our journey as well. Thank you for making our 22nd birthday even more special :)