Observed in October each year, Down Syndrome Awareness Month was started by the National Down Syndrome Society in the 1980’s. By spreading awareness, advocacy and inclusion throughout the community, the month is a time to celebrate individuals with Down syndrome and make people aware of their abilities and accomplishments.
Six things shared by Hanne Bruhwiler on Down syndrome
Mother of 2, Hanne Bruhwiler has shared insightful knowledge with us on her daughter Liv, who has Down syndrome. We thought we would share with anyone seeking to know more:
1. Using Appropriate Language
People are people first so it is important to put a person before a diagnosis. Our daughter Liv is first and foremost our amazing Liv. Liv is not a Downs kiddo or a Down syndrome child. Liv has Down syndrome.
A diagnosis does not define who she is as a person. She has so many other qualities and attributes that can be used to describe her. Liv is a strong and determined little girl who lives her life to the full. She has a great sense of humor and loves books, music and chips.
She is just like your child in so many ways but with an extra feisty chromosome.
Liv does not 'suffer' from Down syndrome.
Liv has Down syndrome
2. Misconceptions with Emotions
There is a misconception that people with Down syndrome are always happy. I hear it a lot. People with Down syndrome experience the same range of emotions like everybody. Liv is happy because she lives a life full of love, adventure and secure connections. Although, do not be fooled....Liv is 3 and there are a lot of strong emotions these days as she navigates life as a new big sister and wanting to be miss independent, well just being 3.
3. Medical Challenges
Not all children with Down syndrome are born with or have medical challenges. I think that is a common misconception and one heard often if you get a prenatal diagnosis. You hear about all the things that could be "wrong" with your child instead of all the good things. I am happy to report that Liv is a strong little girl with a healthy heart who has no problem keeping up with her peers. She has a strong immune system, loves the outdoors and has been surfing the cold Pacific with her dad, SUPing with her mom, skateboarding with dad, biking, running, and doing gymnastics. She does it all.
4. Support Not Sorry
Please, don't tell us you are sorry our child has Down syndrome. There is absolutely nothing to be sorry about. Our children are strong and resilient little beings who deserve to be celebrated. Liv is just like any other 3 year old child who is loved by friends, family, and her community. With loving support all children can reach their full potential.
5. Be an Advocate
Having a child with Down syndrome is not hard. Raising Liv is not any different than raising your 3 year old child. It is the societal judgement, assumptions and ignorance that can be hard. I will always advocate for our Liv just like you will advocate for your child and how I will also advocate for Liv's little sister, Asta Mai. I want all children to grow up in a world that is kind and inclusive for all abilities.
6. Like Any Other Child and Family
Last but not least, I want people to know that we are a family like any other family...well ok we are a super cool family with an extra spicy chromosome. But, like any other parents we want the best for our children. We want Liv to be treated with respect and dignity like her sister and everyone else. We do not want people to think less of her because of her diagnosis. Liv might take longer to reach her milestones or to learn certain things but with understanding, patience, love, and support she will get there, just like your child. Think highly of her and do not use Down syndrome as an excuse. We have high expectations for our daughter and we want you to as well. With inclusiveness and support she will reach her full potential. She is a kind, smart, fiesty, and empathetic little girl that makes us so proud. She has already taught us more in her short life than we could have ever imagined. - Hanne Bruhwiler
We thank you for sharing, Hanne!
We thank you for sharing, Hanne!