With World Down Syndrome Day now just hours away, I thought I would give you a glimpse into a typical day for Alex…
The alarm begins to go off at 6:40am. That time typically comes way too early for me, but Alex is usually quick to hop out of bed. Sure, he may grumble a bit, but he is generally ready to begin his day. He heads downstairs to free his beloved dog, Maisey, from her crate and lets her outside in the backyard. He waits for her, then lets her back inside and (with reminders) gives her breakfast and some fresh water.
By now, the other kids are also awake. The noisy chaos is elevated, as we all scramble through our morning routines. Alex tries to sneak some time on his iPad, and is none too pleased when I remind him that there should be no screen time until he is completely ready for school. I remind him to use the bathroom and get dressed; Maisey dutifully accompanies him to the bathroom, under my supervision, then leads him back out to get dressed.
Once Alex and his siblings are dressed, they have their breakfast. Alex likes to help prepare his scrambled eggs (under my close watch, using the microwave), and he likes to help the other kids with their breakfast, too. As they eat, I make their lunches; Alex packs his lunch most days, but he has started buying on days when the cafeteria offerings are to his liking.
Soon after breakfast, the bus rolls up and carries Al and Ad off to school. Andrew and I wrap up our morning agendas, then I drop him off at preschool and either head to work, or to complete the day’s errands.
Alex spends most of his mornings and afternoons at school, in the third grade. Several hours later, the bus returns Al & Addie and we all reconvene at home, and get ready for the late afternoon/evening activities (either appointments, sports, or dance).
Once those activities are complete, we return home again for homework, dinner, and baths. Alex enjoys helping with dinner, and often helps to set and clear the table. Shortly after dinner, we begin the bath rotation, and Alex sits down with his dad or I to complete his homework. Once Andrew is sound asleep, it’s Alex’s turn to be tucked into his bed (as the boys share a room, and putting them to bed at the same time is counterproductive!).
Obviously, depending on the day, the month, and even the season, our days can vary. But, what hopefully strikes you about Alex’s schedule is how very similar it is to your family’s schedules. Alex goes to school, helps around the house, participates in activities after school, does homework, fights with his siblings…he does the things most third graders are doing.
So often, Alex gets compared to typically developing children, but only in the categories in which he differs from them (academics, speech abilities, fine and gross motor skills). How many times, though, is he compared to his peers in every day tasks? Not frequently. If we thought about this, about how much he shares in common with everyone, we could all see how much more he is alike his peers than he is different.
This thought is something I hope you’ll consider tomorrow, on World Down Syndrome Day. Let’s embrace our similarities, instead of focusing on our differences. This is the way to a more inclusive community.