Monday, August 10, 2009
Do I Have Down Syndrome?
A few months ago, my oldest son Diego asked me a question that made me think long and hard about how much siblings can be affected by having a family member with special needs.
He asked me out of the blue..."Do I have Down syndrome?"
Me: "No you don't have Down syndrome, why do you ask?"
Diego: "I want to have Down syndrome!"
Diego: "Because....(said with a sad tone in his voice)....I want to be special too."
Me: "Diego, you ARE special! You don't have to have Down syndrome to be special. We love you just the way you are. We love all of you. You are ALL special to me and Papa."
Since that conversation, I've made an extra attempt to explain what DS is to Diego and to remind him that he is just as special as his brother Joaquin is and just as special as Mateo too. It's been an opportunity for me to be sure and check in with him. Now I understand how deeply this has touched him. It's true. Joaquin gets A LOT of special attention. Lots of different therapists come in and out of the house every week. Most are very welcoming to Diego but there is one therapist that prefers that the boys stay completely out of the room during Joaquin's session and that is really hard on the boys and on me. Joaquin is also a people magnet so he gets a lot of attention from family, friends, even strangers and this must be hard on the boys too.
Another interesting thing that has been happening lately, Diego will let his tongue rest on his lower lip almost as if he wants to look like Joaquin. He doesn't do it disrespectfully. It's a subtle thing he does when we aren't looking. It's like he is experimenting with it. I know that this is an attempt to get our attention as well.
The one thing that we have going for us is that Diego absolutely ADORES his brother Joaquin which is so beautiful to witness. I wish he felt the same way about his brother Mateo sometimes! But I can see that if I don't continue to watch the family dynamic that some resentment could grow and that's the last thing I want to have happen. I take extra care in making sure each of the boys gets lots of attention and special activities specific to them but it's hard sometimes because Joaquin is also the "baby" in the family so naturally he's going to get more attention just based on his birth order. Thankfully I'm a first born in my family so I know how Diego feels at times, but having a child with special needs in the family is very new to all of us. I would love to attend some workshops on this topic in the near future or chat with families who have been through this to make sure I do the best job I can in raising my boys to love one another and to each feel individually special. All of this without any resentment towards their youngest brother.
Just another reminder to tell our children, every day, with Down syndrome or not, that they are loved and they are SPECIAL.
Posted by The Sanchez Family at 9:58 PM