“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” – S. Hamilton
October is all about awareness: Breast cancer and, one of which you may not even be aware, Down syndrome. My Mother is a breast cancer survivor, but my sister was killed by it. Believe me, I’m fully aware of the need to be supportive in the fight against this awful disease and raising awareness in October is crucial to fund that fight.
I also happen to have a twelve year old daughter who has Down syndrome.
Down syndrome awareness has taken a back seat to the pink for a long time in October, so, I feel a responsibility, especially during this month, to be transparent about our lives with Ds. My hope is that you take time to learn something new, maybe change an attitude, be more understanding.
It’s their turn.
For our daughter Ansley, her friends, and all those who love them, here we go!
It’s not a disease nor a disability
First things first, Down syndrome is not a disease nor a disability. With around 250,000 people living in the world with Ds, it is the most commonly occurring genetic condition. There are no known behavioral or environmental factors that cause Ds. It is not inherited. It is caused by a mistake in cell division, which results in an extra chromosome in the cells. There is no “cure” for a genetic condition.
Our daughter is unique simply because God gave her an extra chromosome, or maybe, because the rest of us are missing one.
Should you feel sorry for Ansley?
Just look at this face of our daughter with Down syndrome. Does it say she is “afflicted with” or “suffering from” anything? Hardly! It is saying, “I’m a lake-girl and a dock-jumper. I’m strong and I can swim like a fish. I only ride jet skis if you go FAST. I love to get on the tube, and when we’re in the middle of the lake, I let go, because I’m THAT GIRL. And nothing is going to stop me, especially an extra chromosome! Just look at my face.”
“I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14
About the author: Susan Lewis Ellis grew up in Habersham County. Her parents are Rev. Furman and Jeannette Lewis of Clarkesville. Susan and her husband, David, are the proud parents of daughters Lila and Ansley. The family lives in Venice, Florida. In observance of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Susan wrote a series of articles for Now Habersham about her daughter Ansley. You can read all of her articles by clicking on the links below.