Most of my friends have siblings, but almost none of them have one quite like mine. As a sister of a thirteen year old brother with Down syndrome, I often go to friends to tell them a funny story or to vent about a frustrating event that just happened, all revolving around Chris. Despite the times when I think it would be easier to have a sibling without Down syndrome, Chris is probably the most outgoing, talkative person I have ever met and having him as my brother has made my life so interesting and taught me many things.
Both kids and adults with Ds often say whatever is on their mind and don’t have much of a filter. This leads to so many funny moments but also some quite embarrassing moments for me, my mom and my dad. One story that comes to mind is an event that happened in a CVS store. We were there buying medicine and there was an Indian man wearing a turban on his head. Now, Chris, being 9 years old at the time, thinks nothing of pointing and yelling out “Look Mom! It’s a genie!” We were mortified. Luckily this man was nice, found it humorous and entirely understood that Chris meant nothing by it. Three years later, it’s a great story to tell and one day, I’m sure Chris will understand the humor in it too.
Many people with Ds also act on impulse. While typical people usually think things through before acting, those with Ds often don’t. In my case, this causes my home life to be very hectic at times. A story that I will honestly remember forever happened one year while my family was on vacation in Orlando, Florida. At about 6 o’clock in the morning, Chris decided he wanted to go for a swim. He left the hotel room in his pajamas- without telling anyone. My mom finally realizes he’s gone, tells resort security, wakes me up and we all begin frantically searching. Now, this is exactly what we all love doing at 6 am! Not too long after, we found him. Chris was in the pool, exactly where he wanted to go because he is always on a mission. But, being the diligent, practical thinker he is, he knows that we should never swim in our pajamas! So, correction: Chris was in the pool, naked, with the lifeguard ring keeping him afloat. At least my mom knows she taught him well. Safety first!
Having a sibling with Ds has truly taught me the meaning of the word PATIENCE! I even won a patience award as a counselor at a nature camp and I am sure I have Chris to thank for that one. He’s never in a rush to go anywhere and he really lives in the moment. He doesn’t rush from one thing to the next like the majority of us do nowadays. Patience seems like a very good quality to have until you throw in the schedules of the other three family members on top of Chris’s activities of karate, soccer, Boy Scouts, skiing, baseball and/or sailing (I haven’t even mentioned any of the activities I do)! We are always in a rush but, with a sibling with Down syndrome, sometimes there really is no other choice but to wait and be patient.
Although there are some struggles in having a brother with Ds, I don’t know what I would do without him. As most people with Down syndrome, Chris is very in touch with feelings and extremely empathetic. He has a way of cheering others up no matter what and Chris always picks me up when I’m down. I couldn’t imagine my life with a typical sibling because there are so many things people with Down syndrome bring to the world. I think, and many would agree, that it’s a shame there are less and less people with Ds today because when most parents find out they are having a child with Down syndrome, they abort these innocent, funny, smart and most of all loving people, just because of one extra chromosome.