February 5, 2016

light bulb

This week I brought my buddy to a Down syndrome clinic and we talked with a geneticist. She said something that really stuck with me. (I am paraphrasing and I'm sure not very well) I had an endless stream of questions about different behaviors. The doctor told me that changes in the 21st chromosome present themselves in the brain. This is why individuals with Down syndrome have cognitive delay. She continued on to say that there are a lot of other ways it can affect the brain like OCD, impulsivity, depression, stubbornness and spectrum disorders.

It was like a light bulb went off in my head. I've always understood that my buddy would have cognitive delays. While I encourage him to learn as much as possible, I never felt a pressure to do everything in my power to raise his IQ to genius levels. I accepted that about him from the beginning.

Yet all these years later I am still trying (unsuccessfully) to alter his behavior. I fight against the impulsiveness and try and cajole the stubbornness out of him. I have felt the heavy weight of guilt over failing to get him to 'behave properly' in public. I have been holding my buddy up to a standard that he just can't attain. I need to truly accept this about him and stop seeing his behavior as my lack of success as a mom.

I will never stop encouraging my buddy to be the best he can be. I just need to acknowledge that my preconceived idea of best may not be realistic for him. And there is nothing wrong with that. He is who he is.

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