This Is Who I Am

This Is Who I Am
Imagine an amiable, energetic young man who is helpful and sensitive to the feelings of others.  He’s eager to learn, does well at school and is proud of his accomplishments.  “Cops” is his favorite TV program and he’s a purist when it comes to rock & roll music.  He enjoys a variety of activities and is especially fond of the great outdoors.  Most remarkably, he welcomes each new day as if it were the beginning of a great adventure.

Now that you’ve had a chance to form a mental image of this young man, would it change if I were to also tell you he has Down Syndrome?  Does having a disability somehow lessen those qualities one may possess?

This incredible young man is my son, Matthew.  He’s overcome many obstacles related to his disability through sheer determination and an eagerness to learn. However, I have discovered that his greatest obstacle in life is not his disability. The greatest obstacles to overcome are the misconceptions, negative attitudes and low expectations that so many folks seem to have for those with disabilities.

I’ve always considered myself to be open-minded and tolerant.  I abhor those who judge others according to race, nationality, religious beliefs or sexuality.  Until my son was born, it never occurred to me that intolerant attitudes also exist towards people with disabilities.

 

Now that you’ve had a chance to read his words and form a mental image of my son, would it change if I were to also tell you he has Down Syndrome?  Does having a disability somehow lessen those qualities one may possess?

Matthew has overcome many obstacles related to his disability through sheer determination and an eagerness to learn. However, I have discovered that his greatest obstacle in life is not his disability. The greatest obstacles to overcome are the misconceptions and negative attitudes that so many folks seem to have for those with disabilities. I’ve always considered myself to be open-minded and tolerant.  Until my son was born, it never occurred to me that intolerant attitudes also exist towards people with disabilities.

All children feel the need to belong and to be accepted for who they are as unique individuals. Children with disabilities are no different.  I am sharing the details of our experiences to illustrate the powerful impact the attitudes of others have on children with disabilities and their families.  If you look beyond the disability, you’ll see that my child is not so different from yours.

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” ~Scott Hamilton