…About That Bit On "Learning to Go Slower" Because You Have a Child With Down syndrome…

Before I had Moxie – when I was searching online for something positive about Down syndrome, something that I could sink into with a sigh of relief, “oh, it’s going to be okay”, I came upon reasons why parents were grateful that they have a child with Down syndrome.

Learning to slow down was often one of those reasons.

The parents would write about how grateful they were to their child with Down syndrome because that child had taught them to slow down, enjoy life at a slower pace and so forth.

I never found comfort in those types of posts.

I’m a fairly quick person. I tend to move, speak, type, work, paint and act with speed (“precision” is a totally different story). I like quick; I admire things done quickly.

So those posts saying how grateful a given parent was to learn to slow down… yeah, well. It didn’t sit well or bring me happiness.

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Now my child with Down syndrome is 3 and a half years old.

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And the thing that mostly comes to my mind is,

Learning to go SLOWER?!!!

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WHERE ON EARTH DID THAT COME FROM?!

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Nothing has made me move faster – EVER – in my life than having Moxie.

Moxie moves fast, thinks fast, acts fast. She keeps on my physical toes. Figuring out ways to teach  her to talk, to sign and so forth keeps me constantly on the mental move and oh my God! Chasing after her!

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This isn’t true of all children with Down syndrome. Of course it’s not. Just like not all typically developing children have brown eyes or like watching Mister Rogers. All kids are different! And it boggles me how easy is it for us to lump children that have something that we are not familiar with together – if one child with Down syndrome isn’t quick, we tend to assume ALL children with Down syndrome are not quick! But we would go to great lengths to defend the fact that not all children like watching Mister Rogers.

Children with Down syndrome are simply not given the type of consideration, benefit of the doubt, breadth of thought and room for diversity that typically developing children are.

Down syndrome is not a one-size fits all mold.

Everyone is different.

My child is QUICK. My child has not – emphatically NOT taught me to “slow down” and “enjoy the ride”; she’s taught me to fun faster and better. She’s taught me to watch where I’m going so I don’t fall.

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She’s taught me to embrace elements of fearlessness that I didn’t know I had in me.

She lives with moxie; she’s teaching me to do the same.

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Meriah

is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).

She likes her coffee black and hot.


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11 Comments

  • “Children with Down syndrome are simply not given the type of consideration, benefit of the doubt, breadth of thought and room for diversity that typically developing children are.”

    Exactly. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Hi Meriah — I guess it’s good that Moxie is quick because, as you say, that’s what you “admire” or value. But what if she were slow? Is that a bad thing?

    I don’t really see your piece as promoting diversity, but more saying “no, my kid’s not like the stereotype,” so in some way my kid is better.

    • Hmm. I’m sorry you interpret my post that way, Louise.

      While I admire quickness and yes, it is something that I value, of course being slow isn’t a bad thing! I have no doubt that if Moxie were slow, it would bring with it a different set of things that I would find something positive about.

      My intent with this post was to question the norm that is put out there – that kids with Down syndrome are all slower. And question that piece that is also presented with great frequency, that us parents will learn to be grateful for learning to go slower too.

      As I mentioned in that post, that is ALL THAT I FOUND online when I was pregnant with Moxie. There was nothing out there that said, ‘some kids with Down syndrome are slow, some are really, really fast – it’s exactly like how it is with typically developing kids; full range of skills and development times’.

      This post is simply to add some weight at the other end of the balance beam.

    • It seems that Meriah is addressing the “trope,” so to speak, in the Down syndrome blogging world rather than placing a value judgement on the physical speed of any child.

      It is quite common to read that a child’s diagnosis is a gift or blessing because it has forced the parent to “slow down.” As a Ds mom, I disagree with the way that my child’s diagnosis is so often validated because of what her diagnosis has taught someone else. She isn’t a blessing because she has made me slow down and realize what’s “really” important. She is a blessing simply because she is my child.

      I have not experienced this sort of “spiritual” slowing down that many parents describe. I appreciate any blogger willing to address common themes in how we present our children and any opportunity to explore the truth, or lack thereof, of those themes.

  • I also have a speedy little runner with DS who keeps me on my toes! Loved your blog and your photos! My little girl Ella is also 3.5yrs old. Can imagine the two of them together – loads of fearless fun!
    Thanks for sharing your insights – lovely photos too!

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