Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Down Syndrome - Did You Know They Have A Variety of Emotions?

Did you know that people with Down syndrome have a wide variety of emotions?  While you will often hear that people with Down syndrome are always happy, that is not really true!

People with Down syndrome have the same range of emotions as everyone else.  Yes, Gess is often happy and pleasant, but so are most kids!  I have taught children in church for many years and I can assure you that most of them are generally happy most of the time but since they don't have special needs that doesn't get noticed as much.

That's right.  We notice the kids who are not pleasant.  The kids who get in trouble, act out, are mopey, disagreeable or stubborn.  Well I have news for you, Gess has experienced each of those emotions too.  We all have.  I know kids with Down syndrome who smile a lot and kids with Down syndrome who don't.  I know "typical" kids who smile a lot too, and I also know typical kids who don't.  Do you get where I am going here?

People with Down syndrome are not happy all the time nor are they "happy people."  They are people who have a wide range of emotions.  I can tell you that just less than an hour ago my daughter was not happy.  She was quite angry.  She lashed out.  She also lost privileges for her attitude too, but you have to know that she has one and it's not always good. I have often said that Gess' smile could light up the whole world and that is still true.  But you know when she cries her tears are so powerful I feel like they could flood the whole earth. They at least flood my heart.

I think the people with Down syndrome are happy myth bothers parents because we deal with their wide and varied range of emotions on a daily basis.  We are the ones that have to try to figure out why they feel upset and then teach them the appropriate ways to respond to those emotions.  Days like that can be awfully hard.  After dealing with one of Gess' melt downs the last thing I want to hear is how happy she is all the time.  Give me a break, please! 

Remember people with Down syndrome are people first.  They have the same human nature the rest of us do and they are not any better at dealing with stress than we are.  They can often be happy, yes, but they are not always happy and what happiness they feel is due the fact that they are experiencing something that makes them happy.  It's not their extra chromosome that causes a condition of happiness, it's being treated with respect and living in an environment in which they are loved.  I think that would make anyone happy.  Wouldn't you agree?

This post is part of my new Did You Know? About Down Syndrome Awareness Series where I post random facts about Down syndrome to help educate others about DS.  Feel free to post suggestions for future topics in my comment section.  I would love to hear what you would like to discuss!

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