L. M. Montgomery
The end of the year is a time of reflection. Life slips through our fingers so amazingly fast. This year was filled with laughter and flowing with tears – personal and public. Sometimes our inner heartaches spill into our outward lives even when we try very hard not to let them seep through. I am thankful, so thankful, for the many “work friends” – colleagues, patient family members, DSAGC staff - who offered encouragement, many times when they didn’t know I really needed it. I am honored by their support and acts of kindness.
“For every hill there is a valley.” Scot McKnight
As I learn from this year and more forward into the next, my desire is to see the lives of people with DS treated with dignity and respect. As a pediatric speech-language pathologist I long to give voice to each little person I encounter. I learned something from every child I worked with this year:
- Listen more
- Expect more
- Surprises happen and can be fun (I don’t usually like surprises)
- Wait for an answer
- There’s a difference between teaching and bossing (I earned the nick-name ‘Mrs. Bossy’ from a precocious 5-year-old recently)
- Don’t expect the ordinary
- Deep friendships may form without any words at all
These lessons can pretty much be summed up by this great picture by Kati (thanks for sharing with me!). It’s her son and husband “glow bowling” – capturing the spirit of Benjamin Franklin’s famed quote.
This year I taught several classes for undergrads and grads on DS and disability in the media. Thankfully the media always provides me with plenty to discuss – especially during an election year! This fall much time was spent talking about personal freedom and civil rights. What does freedom look like for a person with DS? Do they live in the world MLK Jr. dreamed of where they are “judged on the content of their character “rather than the number of their IQs?
“For any human being, freedom is essential, crucial, to our dignity and our ability to be fully human.” Izzeldin Abuelaish
Freedom. Freedom to learn and live and love because people with DS are people first. Not less, not more – the same. I am looking forward to a year filled with surprises, shattered expectations, deepened friendships, and extraordinary experiences. Happy New Year!
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” attributed to Albert Camus