We went to our first community Down syndrome event recently. We attended the Ds Indiana picnic. As we parked and unloaded everyone, I suddenly had a panicked thought: I hadn't prepared the kids at all for what we might see and experience. Specifically, I hadn't had the "people are different" discussion with them in awhile. "Too late now," I decided.
I was a little overwhelmed at first. My eye was immediately drawn to the kids who were more involved medically and that was intimidating to me. But, after awhile, I realized that the kids who were hurling themselves down the slip-n-slide, climbing across the jungle gym, going back for seconds at the dessert table, and just being "kids" had Ds, too. That was such an encouragemet to me!
I met some great people and my kids had a good time. I probably should've given the "people are different" speech, though. Not because of their response to anyone with Ds. One of the grandmas was a little person. She was about Zak's height (he's 2). It took Ben (almost 4 y.o.) a long time to notice her, but when he did he immediately pointed and said, "She's creepy!" I grabbed his hand and hastily whispered my speech in his ear. He didn't say anything for a long time while he just watched her. Pretty soon he asked, "Is she real?" Ugh. Zak didn't say anything when he spotted her. He just pointed and laughed and laughed. Yikes!
In hindsight, I wish I would've approached her. I doubt she would've minded, after all, she knows she's little. I think it would've been great for the boys to have had a conversation with her. Maybe next time. I loved that they didn't seem to notice anyone else being different!