I plead with you to take some time to read through this. It's probably one of the most raw posts I have ever put out there and it needs to be read, it needs to be spread, it needs to CHANGE your heart and hearts around you.
I want to offer you a view through Ollie's eyes, through my daughter's heart.
Can you imagine walking into a room and because of the characteristics on your face you are automatically labeled and discounted. Like you are wearing a giant sign around your head that says "Treat me differently!" That people immediately discredit your intelligence, your ability to communicate, your ability to learn. That they don't know how to treat you, what to expect from you, and because of that they lower all expectations because you couldn't possibly be capable of "typical" peer interaction. Can you imagine people being scared of you because you aren't the "same"?
Can you imagine working twice as hard as your peers to walk? Can you imagine spending endless hours a week in therapy so you can speak more clearly? So you can write your name? So you can cut paper? So you can jump or stand on one foot? Seriously would you be that dedicated to doing everything your peers are doing - would you work that hard?
Can you imagine what it would feel like to hear someone drop the word retarded right beside you like it was some hilarious joke? A tard - so - so funny right? To have jokes made about you about the "short bus". Mongoloid? Fucktard? To be labeled Downs and referred to as Downs - not your name but she is Downs? Really? Because my daughter is not one of those things but others label her as such. It sounds terrible doesn't it - but I've heard ALL those this week. This one single week.
Can you even fathom for one tiny second how that would make you feel? Because as her Mom. I feel all of that. It cuts me, it makes me cry, it makes me strong, it makes me mad, then it humbles me to BE THE CHANGE I so desperately want to see in the world.
When we know better - we do better!
Ollie Faith is 3. I don't see Down Syndrome in Ollie. I very rarely even remember she has Down Syndrome because she is that much like a typical toddler. I treat her like she's 3, she has the same expectations, same discipline, and she rises to the occasion like every other 3 year old. Ollie is funny, ornery, super stubborn, majorly sweet, and a enriches the life of our family in more ways than I can count.
But this week she has been devalued in small ways that compound each day. Because each person that drops a derogatory term around me devalues her life. Each person that underestimates her devalues her life. We can do better. She deserves better. I only wish that people saw HER not a diagnosis. That they wanted to know HER & learn about HER not how to treat her differently. That they stopped their friends from using words that were hurtful and replaced those words with respect. Because she deserves it.
Ollie works so hard to make everyone around her feel loved and important. It's her gift in life, her gift from God to bring and spread joy - but if you are not open to HER - the real her - you will miss all of it.
Please stop labeling people and making assumptions but ask questions, get educated, be respectful, make friends, and help us change the world for her and all her friends because they deserve better.