National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

  • Oct. 23, 2018
  • #9517

People with Down syndrome are equals in the body of Christ, and should be spoken to with the same respect we show to everyone else. 

It’s October and it’s National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and I have my friend Shauna Amick in studio today. Shauna thanks for coming on.

SHAUNA: I’m happy to be here, Joni.

JONI: As our friends might know, you work with me here at Joni and Friends and you are the mother of a beautiful teenage daughter with Down syndrome named Sarah, right?

SHAUNA: I sure am and I thought it might be helpful to talk about a few of the possible preconceived notions that folks might have about people with Down syndrome.

JONI: I think that’s a great idea because sometimes we get these stereotypes regarding character traits of people with Downs, but I’m interested in your perspective as a mother.

SHAUNA: Well, first off, it’s important to remember that people with Down syndrome are first and foremost just people!

JONI: People – I love it!

SHAUNA: Amen! They have the same full range of emotions that any of us have. They’re not always happy, though in Sarah’s case, she certainly is happy a lot of the time. When she is she is just full of joy and bursting with energy, but she also gets sad and angry and frustrated – often with me. So as her mom, when somebody tells me that they think people with Down syndrome are always happy, I can’t help but wonder how many people with Down syndrome they really know.

JONI: Good insight. Absolutely, because you are right, we have that perspective, don’t we? So, how would you describe Sarah’s personality over all?

SHAUNA: Well, you know I describe her as passionate! When Sarah’s happy, like I said, she’s extremely happy! But when she’s upset she is like a little time bomb just waiting to go off and you had better get out of her way. If only she was happy all the time! But the fact is, she’s a real person with real emotions, and to think of her any other way just ultimately dehumanizes her and her unique personality.

JONI: Shauna, you must have tips for folks when they’re meeting someone with Down syndrome? What would you say? What would you advise them?

SHAUNA: Like I said, I want everyone to remember folks with Down syndrome are people like everyone else and they want to be treated just like you treat anyone else that you meet.

JONI: So look them in the eye when you are talking to them.

SHAUNA: That’s right. Talk normally to Sarah; speak to her with respect. I think a lot of times, because folks don’t know how to approach a person with Down syndrome, they either ignore Sarah all together, or they really go to the opposite extreme and kind of go overboard in their delivery. If you know what I mean, it’s forced. I always appreciate their good intentions, but the bottom line is that Sarah can see through all that and she craves real relationship just like anyone else.

JONI: Yes, she is a teenager; she’s not a three, four or five year old. You wouldn’t talk down to her as you would a preschooler. But she’s a teen.

SHAUNA: She is 13 now, Joni!

JONI: That’s so important to remember. Is there anything we want to remember for the family members of people with Down syndrome?

SHAUNA: That’s such a great question, I’m grateful you asked it because we want to treat all the family members equally. I have three children and because they are all equal both in my eyes and in the eyes of God, my hope is that others will treat them equally as well. So when meeting my family I hope you will talk to my two older children as much as you would talk to Sarah, don’t ignore them, but also don’t ignore her because one way or the other somebody’s feelings are going to get hurt.

JONI: Good point!

SHAUNA: That is when we really drive home that truth of 1 Corinthians Chapter 12 – that we’re all equal members of the beautiful Body of Christ.

JONI: That’s such an important reminder and thank you for the educational tips on this National Down Syndrome Month. Friend, please visit us at joniradio.org to read a blog Shauna wrote highlighting what God’s Word says about our friends with Down syndrome. You will learn a lot; you will be blessed and you will be inspired. It is all there for you at joniradio.org. Thanks Shauna for coming on.

SHAUNA: Thanks so much Joni.

© Joni and Friends

 

 

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