Talk about acceptance. Talk about a deep level of understanding. Talk about an immediate feeling of oneness. (And talk about a good time!)
The National Down Syndrome Congress Convention is over, but my brain is still on overload. The experience is difficult to describe.
When I meet someone who doesn't know our family, and show them a picture of our kids (not that I ever show anyone pictures of the kids...) I sometimes think, "Will they notice that Rylee has Down syndrome? Will they say something? What will go through their mind?" I didn't realize how often I thought that.
At a Down Syndrome Convention, it's so much different. When you show a picture of your family, you may start to think, "I wonder if they will notice that Rylee has..." and then you stop yourself. Um, nevermind. They immediately "ooh" and "aah" over your kids, but, naturally, they are drawn to Rylee, and start asking all kinds of questions about what she's like. You don't wonder what's going through their mind. You know. They feel connected to you, and you do to them.
I was reminded about a lot of things this weekend...
... that kids with Down syndrome have an easier time with sight words than with phonics when learning to read, because they are such visual learners.
... that teenage boys and girls with Down syndrome are just like everyone else... they like to hold hands, flirt, and are extremely embarrassed by their parents.
... that it's wonderful to get a good night's sleep without a 2-year-old kicking me in my back (and the fact that I have a 2-year-old in my bed at home is a whole post on it's own... appropriately titled "Things I Said I Would Never Do As a Parent... Before I Had Kids.")
... that individuals with Down syndrome are accomplishing many things -- graduating from college, getting married, and, yes, even swimming across the English Channel and Lake Tahoe! (I am not kidding... check this out!)
... that babies with Down syndrome are absolutely gorgeous, with unlimited potential, and it makes my stomach sick to think about doctors who insinuate to families expecting babies with Down syndrome that the babies should not be born.
... that when you travel by yourself, you can get frozen yogurt in the airport, and no one will realize that you got a frozen yogurt in the last airport you traveled through as well. (Not that I did that.)
... that individuals with Down syndrome have a spirit and a love unlike no other. Though they are alike others in many ways, there is no denying that the extra chromosome they possess allows them to change lives.
I know one little girl with an extra chromosome who is changing mine.