Wednesday, 23 January 2013

DS catch phrases

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.


  1. Ooh, well said!! I have been guilty of using some of those other catchphrases in the past, but I totally get what you're saying, and totally agree with you. It is all a bit vomitous. I like the two you've come up with. I won't steal them, but I look forward to hearing them with more frequency. :-)

  2. I've been guilty of those, too. I love yours! I have said more alike, but I think it is because I have two older children....there are a lot of similarities between Hailey and her brothers.

  3. I agree. For the most part. But as the parent of four, my youngest having DS, I have to say, well... They ARE more alike than different. Sure, we had a PT here this morning and a ST here yesterday. But I have to take my oldest to family therapy and my other son was in ST and Iryna... she's more like Shakira than anyone in this house.

    My point is that EVERY child has challenges. Some are more challenging than others. Some typical kids (and by that I mean truly typical, not just in health or chromosome count) require more hand holding or are bullies or are bullied or are gay or depressed or... or... or...

    When I was pg with Kelly, I was worried that if he had DS that our lives would get so much more complicated. That we wouldn't be able to handle the stress of potential health problems. I was worried that I wouldn't know how to parent a child with special needs. What I discovered is that I have been parenting children with special needs all along.

    You'll see. Have another one. Things are pretty typical... when they're atypical.

  4. "Down Syndrome - see the ability". There is a billboard campaign in BC that uses that exact phrasing. It always catches my attention. So interesting to read your reflections as a parent raising so-called "typical" kids. It does sound very different, even with the extra sensitivities and challenges my kids come with. I really appreciate your perspective.

    1. Thanks for your comment Tammy. Maybe I have seen the billboard and it sat in my subconscious? Who knows. Either way, I like what that slogan implies - that people with DS have abilities to share with the world.

  5. "See the Ability" is the slogan right now for CDSS! ( Hopefully this means that people are starting to see outside the typical "catch phrases".

    I will say that I too, however, would say that Jake is more LIKE Cole than he is different than Cole (and again, this is just from my own experience!) What you are talking about with the appointments, therapies, specialists, etc... only pertains to some aspects of our children's lives. It does not speak to the more intrinsic elements ~ the desire for love, affection, respect, relationship etc... And I think those are the things that are more "alike" than different. Just a different perspective I suppose...

    1. There are many aspects of life that are similar for all human beings. I just think that "more alike than different" serves to minimise the things that ARE different about raising a kid with DS. And it leaves us open to be criticised for sugar coating the challenges of raising a child with SN. Of course Phoenix is like many other children her age, but she is different enough to warrant mentioning. Why not celebrate the differences?

      I had a conversation with a friend recently about how raising her son with DS was different than raising a typical toddler. "I can't just talk to him like I did with my first child (and expect him to respond in the same way). He doesn't have the same level of understanding".