“Guest Room” is a 13-minute award-winning film that follows a couple with Down syndrome from the bedroom to the pregnancy test and a short way beyond:
Watched it? It’s amazing isn’t it? It nails it on so many levels that it left me speechless for a while.
First of all, to everyone who thinks that all men with Down syndrome are sterile – wrong! Exactly how often men with Down syndrome are sterile is unknown, but men with Down syndrome can – and have – fathered children before.
Moving on let’s talk about a few things that the movie makes very clear:
Ableism is Alive and Well
“You’re very good with her”
How would that feel to overhear something like that? And you know it happens in real life, don’t you? I mean, you know that people with Down syndrome hear stuff like that All.The.Time. Because, our society. And because, because oddly enough, people seem to confuse intellectual disability with not being able to hear? Or understand what’s being said?
“50% chance” of what? Of being like YOU. Of having Down syndrome.
Our children with Down syndrome having children is, I am assuming, a difficult subject for most parents of children with Down syndrome to talk about. On one hand, we love our kids and are glad we have them. On the other, if our child does have a child – with or without Down syndrome – how will it work out? Will our child be able to care for their child?
As my Beloved said, we ourselves weren’t ready to have our first child (or maybe any of them?). It would feel hypocritical to expect Moxie to be completely ready to take care of a child if/when she wants one.
What does that mean? How would that unfold? We have no idea.
So we just need to play it by ear and take things as they come. I think that’s all we can ever do in life.
Internalized Ableism is Alive and Well
When Amber kneels down and mutters it to her sister, it’s clear she has internalized the ableism. She thinks that having a child with Down syndrome is a questionable thing to do. She’s doing in the film what I did in real life, when I told my mother that I didn’t want to have biological children because I was scared they’d be deaf like me.
Many of us with disabilities internalize societal ableism thoroughly and completely. We don’t want to have kids because we are scared they’ll be like us. Have you read the Unstrange Mind’s post on this? It’s linked here, and it makes your heart explode.
Guest Room is brilliant. It’s open-ended and leaves wide open spaces for thought and discussion. I’d love to hear yours.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.