I hate overused phrases. I hate them. When I hear them, they make me cringe. One of my 'favorite' examples is "If I can help/save just ONE person from (insert grievous experience here) it will all have been worth it" Puke, gag, cough, vomit. It is just so...trite. And self serving. And used a million times. Can't people come up with something better than this? Anything?
Down Syndrome catch phrases drive me equally as crazy. "More alike than different" "My child isn't defined by DS" "My child is a person first". I cannot even tell you have many times I have heard or read these phrases in the past 3 years. I'm sure they aren't as obvious or annoying to those outside the DS community, but to me they are like nails on a chalkboard. "My child is a person first" is the worst. Um, of course they are a person. They are a very small person with a unique genetic makeup. Can anyone honestly tell me that they think that our kids are perceived as anything but a human being?
And with a whole community of moms and parents who blog and write about our experiences with DS, can't we come up with anything more original? Or that even makes sense?
"More alike than different". Really? Do typical kids have a team of professionals who oversee their care? How many typical parents can claim to consult with OT's. PT's, SLP's, EI, a pediatrician, an optimologist, an audiologist and a family doctor? This year we have also seen a cardiologist, an ENT and a sleep clinic. And my daughter is healthy! We just monitor her progress! How exactly is this more alike?
Why can't we just be honest? Our lives with our kids are more complicated. It's not bad. It's not unmanageable. But it is different than raising typical children. It is. I think we come off as disingenuous when we claim otherwise. And it is a criticism of our community that has merit. Because when we claim that it is just like raising typical kids people think we are lying or minimising the struggles that our children will have in life.
It feels normal to us, because we have adapted to our new normal. But it is not alike. And I for one am not going to claim it is.
Here's an idea. Lets come up with new slogans and descriptions of our kids. Here's one I thought of yesterday: "Down syndrome: as individual as you or me". How about "Down syndrome: see the ability". Phrases and descriptions like this are honest, authentic and more representative of the reality of Down syndrome today. It doesn't minimise any of our kids struggles and it doesn't marginalize them or set them apart.
Oh, and if anyone wants to pass these phrases on to a National DS group for marketing purposes, please do, but I'd like credit please. And royalties.