Down syndrome from a father's perspective.

Why I blog about Down syndrome: Part 2

Do you ever worry about how people will treat your child?

I bet if you ask any parent of a child with Down syndrome how they felt about their child’s future they would tell you they were scared for their child. They know that their child is a gift from God, that s/he has unique gifts and skills. But they have likely already experienced, to some degree, that most people have a lot of assumptions about individuals with Down syndrome. I don’t want that for Treyton. My son is not a “downs kid.” He is Treyton Scott Arnold and the world better watch out because here he comes!

It really is all about him.

In my post “Why I blog about Down syndrome: Part 1″, I express my personal need to have an outlet for my thoughts, feelings, and perspectives as a father of a child with Down syndrome. The reality is that being given a child with special needs can be a challenge for any parent. However, as parents of kids with special needs, it is that much more important to transfer the focus from ourselves and rightfully place it on our child.  After all, we are not the ones with the disability.

These posts about why I blog are intended to serve two purposes.  First, I hope that they help you to understand where I am coming from, why I focus on one thing over another.  The other reason is that they help me to stay focused.  I am not the kind of person to just write about my life for the world to see for kicks and grins.  I have an agenda, I want to make a difference for Treyton.  There are different ways to accomplish this but these posts are like benchmarks I can use when writing and sharing other posts.

What do they mean when they say, “I bet she has a good personality?”

Have you ever heard someone say about a girl, “I bet she has a good personality?”  It is typically used to refer to someone who has not exactly been blessed in terms of their looks.  It is a generalizing statement that assumes the person must be nice or interesting because that would be the only reason someone would date them or hang with them.  It is not a nice statement or generalization and certainly not one I would endorse, however, the reality is that the impact of this generalization is not too large.

On the other hand, what comes to mind when you see a person that has the physical appearance/traits common among people with Down syndrome?  This is a rhetorical question.  I know what I thought before Treyton.  That is why I feel the need to help blaze a path for him.  I know that people usually take the path of least resistance which is to use the generalizations they have developed, they lump people into groups filled with assumptions.  The assumptions do not leave room for individuality.

Where did you learn about Down syndrome?

I recently read a post from another dad that blog’s about his son with Down syndrome that deals with this exact subject.  The post on www.noahsdad.com was entitled “Everything I Knew About Down Syndrome I Learned From Watching TV.”  This post refers to the shows “Life Goes On” and “Glee” but more importantly there is an indication that most people do not know much about Down syndrome and the little they do know comes from a very narrow population sample.

There is a HUGE range of abilities among individuals with Down syndrome just like there is among those of us with only two copies of the 21st chromosome.

I would like to point out the fact that I am able to reference two popular shows (Glee is currently popular) with characters that have Down syndrome is quite an advancement.  It was not long ago (when I was a kid) that Sesame Street became the first show to use individuals with disabilities such as Down syndrome as regular parts of their show.  And, Sesame Street incorporated the kids in such a way that did not highlight the disability but focused on them as simply kids.  It should be no surprise that one of the writers for Sesame Street had a child with Down syndrome (Count Us In).

Battling other people’s skeletons.

When a person has done something in the past that hinder them later in life people will refer to the “skeletons in their closet” they need to overcome.  Well, Treyton and other kids with Down syndrome have to battle skeletons as well, but the skeletons do not belong to them.  Treyton will need to fight other people’s skeletons.  It’s not fair, but then again, life is not fair.

I want people to see Treyton like I see him.  Treyton is an amazing gift from God and has completely transformed me and my entire family. He has added so much joy to our house and I am thankful for every minute I get to spend with him. Don’t get me wrong, he is a kid and knows how to work me over like his sisters do but maybe the fact that he has Down syndrome makes me appreciate how typical that is. Note the use of the word TYPICAL and not NORMAL. Had I used the word normal I would by default be indicating that he is abnormal in other ways which is not true.

One of the key reasons I have developed this blog is to help other people see how amazing my son is and then be able to expand that into helping them see all people with Down syndrome and truly unique individuals just like themselves. I am hoping to join with Treyton in his life of breaking the mold, a mold that is outdated and does not fit any longer (actually, it never fit).

Please join our posse and help demolish the stereotypes that hurt people with Down syndrome. 

Rob Arnold has been married to his high school sweetheart for almost 19 years. Together they have three daughters and one son. He earned his bachelor's degree in General Business from Grand Valley State University as well as an MBA in Strategic Management from Davenport University. He enjoys reading, hunting, scuba diving, and spending time with his family.