Monday, October 29, 2012

"High Functioning"

"High functioning Down syndrome."  I've heard those words a lot from people describing my daughter, and I'm not really sure how to take them.  Should I be complimented that they think she's better off than most people with Down syndrome, or offended at the soft bigotry of low expectations that implies it is unusual for people with Down syndrome to achieve what she has?  She's fortunate enough to have benefitted from good medical care, early intervention, and education... but those are all standard procedure for individuals with Down syndrome now.  I don't really know, but I almost think "high functioning" is a backhanded compliment, and I don't use it myself.

Instead, I want to celebrate in today's post some of the things my daughter does with excellence.  Not just "excellent... for Down syndrome."  Excellent for anyone.  It's a pretty long list.  21 items long.
  • She gives the best hugs.
  • She loves unconditionally.
  • She never holds a grudge for longer than a few minutes.
  • If someone needs prayer, she keeps praying for that individual until told she doesn't need to anymore.  She will remind others to pray for that person too.
  • She is generous and compassionate.
  • She is a fantastic hula-hooper.  Her little sister might be as good, but until they came along we were a completely incompetent hula-hooping family.

  • She reads.  And she loves to read.  And she reads pretty close to grade level.
  • Back in the day, she was the quickest of our 4 kids to get the concept of potty-training.
  • She can amuse herself for an extended period of time without help or supervision (this wasn't always the case).
  • She sings in the choir, keeps her place in the music and keeps her poise in front of an audience.
  • She finds her place in the hymnal and follows along with every hymn.
  • She knows all the dance moves for "Thriller."
  • She remembers her schedule, knows when she has to be where at school and how to get there.
  • She has always been good with "calendar math" and could probably find work as an appointment secretary someday.
  • She remembers all the important announcements that the other middle-schoolers forget to tell their parents, like signing the permission slip for the school social.
  • She remembers people's birthdays.  She remembers the birthdays of her 2nd grade teacher and the little boy who was in her class in 4th grade.  She reads the church bulletin and makes sure to wish everybody listed in it a happy birthday or anniversary.
  • What she doesn't know about Disney princesses is not worth knowing.
  • She doesn't care if some other 13-year-olds have outgrown Disney princesses.
  • She laughs easily.
  • She knows a lot of people.  She is always running into friends from school at Target or places like that.  They come up and give her hugs.  This doesn't strike me as weird, because it is obvious they genuinely like her.  The rest of us barely survived through 7th grade... she seems to be thriving.
  • She gets on the bus every morning with a smile on her face; she gets off the bus every afternoon and runs, beaming, to give me a hug.

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