Wednesday, October 9, 2013

31 for 21: Down Syndrome Stereotypes (9)

One of the most common stereotypes about people with Down Syndrome is that they are happy ALL of the time.  While I would generally say that Colin's overall demeanor is more relaxed and calm than Kailey's, I certainly wouldn't say that Colin is happy all of the time.  Just like other kids his age, he still gets mad when he doesn't get what he wants, he cries when he gets a "boo-boo", he loses his temper when Kailey doesn't do what he wants, and just because YOU want him to smile for a picture, doesn't mean he always wants to do that for you.  

Colin also has his boundaries when it comes to physical contact.  A lot of people have said to us that people with Down Syndrome are so loving and like to hug and kiss a lot.  While in some cases this can be true, for Colin, he has his limits to the kind of physical contact he is willing to give out and receive.  These days, Colin does not dole out hugs and kisses to just anyone and even if you ask him to, he doesn't always oblige.  It surprises us at times because we will find that he is ready and willing to hug a random stranger in the grocery store, but then doesn't want to hug family members good-bye when they are leaving our house.  I find a lot of times at school when I pick him up that a lot of kids want to hug him good-bye (particularly the girls) and if it gets to be too much, he is no longer interested in giving hugs back.  This typically has to be on his own terms and when he is ready.  While there are times we want him to hug certain people, we are also trying to teach him appropriate hellos and good-byes.  For example, we have been trying to teach him to give handshakes when he is trying to say hi instead of always expecting him to give a hug.  This is not always appropriate behavior in society so we think it's important to show him that now.  

However, we have found that he is getting pretty comfortable with Kailey in the sense of their "closeness".  We often find them in a lot of positions like in the picture above which has improved a lot from his tolerance of this before.  I think this is improving partly because of his increased communication and in being able to tell her what he does and does not want (she can often be a bossy pants).  I also think this is becoming the case more because of their growing friendship.

While Colin's personality has always been more easy going and laid back than other kids, he still is a very typical toddler.  He decides when he wants to do things, including showing affection and how he wants to do it.  This does not mean that he will just hug and kiss anyone and everyone (nor would we want him to!).  

Despite the fact that these hugs and kisses are on his terms, he DOES give out some pretty awesome ones. He has the power to make anyone feel loved! 

No comments: