We Finally Met a Young Lady with Down syndrome

Having been a minority for most of my life, I am the gal you want to have around if you are looking to connect with someone with whom I have a minority connection with. I have absolutely no shyness, no shame: I will pounce on ANYONE that I see walking in the street with a hearing aid or anyone that I see signing. I will also rush forward with anyone with Down syndrome.

I’ve been on the lookout, believe you me, since we’ve been in Baja. I have seen precious few people from the respective deaf/Ds tribes and I’ve been feeling bummed out about it. It’s just like…. where is everyone?!!!Β 

Anyway, so last night we were walking down the street and Mikey saw a young lady with Down syndrome and told me so. I naturally rushed forward, gleeful: ‘hola! hello! hola!’ – smiling and addressing the girl and her mother and brother. Mikey stepped forward to translate (what a great sport; I’ve *got* to work on my Spanish).

The gist of it all: we were thrilled, THRILLED to be seeing and meeting someone with Down syndrome here. THRILLED. Yes, that needs to be in bold and caps because it was a joy-rush, all right. But the mother of the girl was not thrilled to be meeting us. In fact, after only a couple of minutes and despite that they had been sitting in a bus stop when we first saw them, Β she excused them all and walked into a store behind us. I wouldn’t exactly say they were running away from us, but um… it was pretty close.

I don’t know why.

Could be that the mom isn’t into having strangers acting like second family? Or that she doesn’t want to talk about Down syndrome?

We introduced Moxie, “she has Down syndrome too!!!!!!!” and the mom was like, “that’s nice” in a tone so flat it could compete with a straight line.

**

At least we have met someone with Down syndrome here; I’m really hoping we will connect with more people. I’ve emailed every organization that I can find in Mexico related to Down syndrome with an offer to volunteer/connect – IN SPANISH AND MORE THAN ONCE – and we haven’t heard back from anyone.

I might just have to show up on their door step and that’s okay. At least, I Β hope it’ll be okay. I hope they won’t try and run away too πŸ™‚

miss busy
miss busy
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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a deaf artist, tech-junkie, Counselor (and sometime teacher), mom (one with Down syndrome), cat-lover, Trekkie, yurt-dwelling off-the-grid farmer's wife. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done.

13 Comments

  • Get used to it. πŸ™‚ From what I have seen in my son’s 30 years, people fall very decidedly in two camps – the ones that are excited to meet you too, and the ones that treat you like a pariah. My son adores seeing babies (Moxie would be a baby to him) with Down syndrome. He goes right up to the baby and says to the parent, I have a disability. I have Down syndrome. He than admires the baby and tries to interact with them. The parents either pull away or watch on enchanted. Since Teddy has his own business, he usually pulls out his business card and tells them about Teddy’s Ts, if they haven’t walked off already. It’s remarkable to me to see the interaction. I used to try to facilitate these encounters by steering him away if they seemed unwelcome. Now I just let him go for it. Sometimes the people who are the most uncomfortable at first are the ones that are shaking his hand and telling him how glad they are to meet him when they part.

    • I wish we could meet him! Your son sounds like a great guy. I’d love to have Moxie grow up with a strong community of people with Ds around her.

      Thanks for commenting – I really appreciate your perspective

      • I once had a lady spot me across Universal Studios running at full pace with her son in her arms, she didn’t know I spoke SPanish and she is gesturing at her son and at my daughter. I was like yeah he is gorgeous just like my girl. He was too. I was thrilled that she went through so much effort to get me and introduce our kids and I was so delighted to be bilingual and that I was able to speak to them. AMazing. Keep doing what your doing, you are right. *-)

  • I’m wondering if it’s a cultural thing? That is, maybe it’s something they don’t want to draw attention to because people in their own community “shun” them. I don’t know……..we went to Cancun last year and while we didn’t meet anyone with Ds, everyone we interacted with weren’t running away from us and several of the workers at the resort asked us about Down syndrome. That kinda sucked that the interaction was not what you’d normally expect. I hope you are able to make some good connections once you get to where you want to be!

    • I don’t know enough about Mexican culture to know if it’s cultural… I just know that the last two times we were here, I “accosted” (for lack of another word coming to mind!) other families and they were really happy to connect with us – that’s how we learned about dolphin therapy here and stuff like that – from other families of kids with Ds we ran into.

      Man… I sure hope we make connections too!!!

      • It’s a cultural thing. Having a child with a disability is not seen as a blessing in our culture (from my experience). When my sister was pregnant, many of our family members were asking her to have an abortion or why she was being punished by god. In Mexico, they still refer to people with Downs as mongolitos.

          • My niece is three years old! This is her on our way to Disneyland. We go every year for Children’s Day. https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc3/t1/35911_10150865630888000_1028280108_n.jpg?lvh=1

            Our family is from a small village in Chihuahua, roughly, six hours away from Juarez. My friend Susan actually told me about your blog and asked me to see if I knew of organizations. I unfortunately do not but I assume that the bigger cities would have them. I also asked my friends who are from Puebla to see if they knew about organizations closer to the capital.

          • thank you SO MUCH!! I really appreciate your checking – we just rented an apartment in La Paz for a month, so I think I will just go to the rehab center here and see who I can meet, in person.

            Thank you again, I really appreciate it.

            And your niece is ADORABLE!!!

  • The other commenters have covered most of what I was thinking, that there might be cultural differences in how people in Mexico view Down Syndrome. However, I don’t think it’s just Mexico. You are right that a lot of disabled people and their families are unfamiliar with seeing disability as an aspect of diversity. They see it as suffering from a dread disease. They probably still love their children dearly, but the idea of shared kinship through disability may seem utterly alien to them. I myself felt that way when I was growing up with disabilities. It wasn’t until I was in college that I found other disabled people who saw it as part of a proud identity.

    I’m sorry you have had some disappointing encounters, but I think its great that as a parent you seek out adults who have your child’s type of disability. Role models like that can be hugely important, and just telling children about their possible adult futures just can’t compare with seeing them in real life.

    • I hear you, Andrew… I was past 30 when I started to be proud of my disabilities and connect with the disability community.

      I don’t want my daughter to have to wait as long as I did.

      Thanks for commenting

  • Hey from Germany. πŸ™‚
    Found your blog and love it. My daughter is 12 and I do it like you: I run to every child with Down Syndrome, tell them the good news that my daughter has Down Syndrome too, but very often they just stare at me or run away.
    So if you ever come to Berlin, just look out for us. We wont run away, but invite you to a cup of coffee. πŸ˜€
    Katta

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